“You are what you are because you are what you are.”
This seemingly double-speak was first spoken to me in another form but the idea was the same: what you don’t know defines you as much as what you do know. If we wonder why our lives are what they are, there’s a reason for it: because we are what we are.
That doesn’t help, does it?
After all, no matter what we’re trying in life—a job promotion, being a better spouse, parent, friend, or growing in our faith in Jesus—we are where we are in the process because that’s who we are at that moment.
We’re all just snapshots of grace: God’s not done with us yet. Therefore, we are what we are because we are what we are.
The great Teacher of Israel, King Solomon, said it this way in Ecclesiastes 8:16-17:
16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night—17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.
There is ceaseless activity over this great planet always. Literally, humanity (as a whole) never sleeps. At any given point, half of us are awake and pursuing our labor while the other half sleeps. In many areas, there are factories and shops (certainly hospitals, police stations, and fire departments) that are operational twenty-four hours a day.
And in all this pursuit we must eventually ask, “What are we doing?”.
We will never master anything in life. Not really. Someone better will always come along and then someone better than them will come along. Sooner or later, one person’s “mastery” becomes “basic knowledge” for others.
If we were able to master the outcome of our lives, then prosperity, longevity, and happiness would accompany us. But these are our pursuits, not our partners!
But this kind of knowledge is forever out of our reach. While pursuing it is not wrong, Solomon points out that it is meaningless. Because it can’t be done. “Even if the wise claim they know, they really cannot really comprehend it” (verse 17b).
Thusly, you are what you are because you are what you are. Our lives are what they are because we are where we are in it. And on our own, we can never see the blind spots, icebergs, or curveballs. We’ll be blindsided by problem after problem without any sense of why it’s happening.
Now, it’s important to remember: Solomon writes most of Ecclesiastes from an antagonistic perspective. His assumption is basically, “You want to say there is no God. Fine, let’s test how life works apart from Him.”
These verses are a classic example of how pointless life is without God. Depressingly so, gaining wisdom is pointless if it bears no meaning to something—anything—bigger than us.
But it does. The more we figure out life, the more we know there is more to understand. The common element to all of it is the Divine Creator, the Lord God Almighty. It is through Him, with Him, and because of Him life has any meaning whatsoever.
It is only in Jesus, my friend, we can truly be more than we are by becoming more that we’ve been.