Last year, seventh-grade parents were given the assignment to write their children a letter explaining the meaning of life. Seriously? Why not just write the cure for cancer? Or solve the problem of world peace? Or do ninth-grade algebra? The meaning of life?! Of course, the best teachers challenge us. As it turns out, the question is worth answering. I am sharing my letter because at times I need to be reminded of its message. Maybe you do too.Dear Alex, I have been asked to write you a letter explaining the meaning of life. But seeing that only moments ago I spilled hot coffee down the front of my shirt, I am not sure I feel qualified to answer such a poignant question. When we are children, we see the world in solid colors. There are no shades or variations of pigments. We learn basic colors early and life seems pretty simple. As we grow older, things get more complicated. There is no longer just the color blue but countless shades of it. We have a lot more choices, but the right ones aren’t always clear. A spectrum of possibilities exists as to what one’s life may mean. That’s the beauty of life and the mystery for you to uncover. I can’t tell you what the answer will be for you, because I am still learning what it is for me. In some ways, the answer seems obvious, and I am tempted to spell it out. But I resist the urge to give you a one-word solution, to pick one color from the few that existed when we were younger, to oversimplify, give away the secret, the magic formula, the profundity of life’s meaning, because of that word itself, love. Love would be the easy answer. God’s love, family love, married love, love of others, merciful love, eternal love, and unconditional love will be the answer many times over if you live life well. I could do this, and I wouldn’t be wrong. After all, love is as true as the color red. But it would be too simplistic, and life is many things, yet I have never known it to be simple. Alex, life is going to be the color you pull from it. You decide. I am not going to tell you that you can be anything or have anything or do anything that your heart desires, but that you decide the shade of your heart in the choices you make every day. Few choices are insignificant. Be deliberate. Do the little things. Dream the big things. Take chances. Know loving others is the bravest thing you can do. Be brave. Let go of anger. Hold on to hope. Get to know yourself through God; you will like yourself better. Forgive. It is the embodiment of love. Find your edge and dare to peek over. Be generous with others, not just with money, but with moments. Don’t measure success. Don’t count costs. Don’t let other people pick your color. Know that you have always colored my life with joy in a shade that is not worthy of words, but the best of the human heart. I can’t wait to see what you do with your life, what colors you use to find its meaning and what lines you draw to define your purpose. I can’t give you life’s meaning, because it’s yours to make. All I know is, love comes in many colors. It won’t always be easy to pick, and you may not always get your favorite shade. But you choose for yourself. Just remember that whatever you choose, it’s only by sharing your colors with others that rainbows are made. Love, Mama
Copyright 2018 Lara Patangan
About the Author
Lara Patangan is a freelance writer and mother of two boys. She believes the merits of mercy are among our greatest gifts as Christians. Her first book about works of mercy will be published in the spring by Our Sunday Visitor. Please visit MercyMatters.net to join this community that believes in the power of mercy to change the world.