We are valuable and we are loved because of who we are not what we do.

I've noticed that when we are meeting someone for the first time we often ask, "What do you do?"  It is a common question for most of us are curious about other's occupations.

I've also observed that as my children were growing up many people asked them, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" referring to what career they will choose.  Prestige and the ability to earn money are often the result of what we choose to do.

So we grow into adults who focus almost entirely on what we do to feel good about ourselves.  If we don't do enough during the day, we feel lazy. If we don't choose the right career or if we do something wrong, we fill our hearts with regret or guilt. More and more we learn to focus the camera lens of our lives on what we do.

The other day I was speaking with someone about my grandson Caleb. When people find out Caleb was born without a brain they often stand in stunned silence. Then they always ask, "What can he do?"

I know the question is innocent and I am not offended but I can't help thinking that they are missing the point. Caleb might not have a brain but he has a heart and soul. If I go through the usual list of important achievements in life, Caleb may not fit the bill. But I always long to explain that it is not what Caleb can do that defines him.

And sometimes the person I'm talking to persists with detailed questions like . . .
"Can he see?"
"Can he move?"
"Can he hear?"
"Can he speak?"
"Can he eat?"
"Can he breathe?"
"Can he think?" 

And though the questions are innocent they often leave this impression . . .
"Well if he can't he do anything, I feel so sorry for him and for you. If he can't do anything - what purpose can his life possibly have?"

Because our family has been blessed to have Caleb in our lives we have learned that what makes someone valuable is not what they do but who they are.  Though Caleb's body makes is almost impossible for him to do much of anything in a physical sense, his presence is enough for us. His divine and noble spirit is alive and well inside a body with severe physical limitations yet enhanced spiritual abilities. Caleb speaks without language getting in the way. He loves without the inherit limitations of physical affection. His soul shines with a light only seen through the eyes of love.

So the next time you see someone like my grandson Caleb do not ask their family members what they can do.  Do not feel sorry for them. Instead say, "Tell me about your child."

And the next time you are thinking dark thoughts about self or others because of something you or they did of failed to do . . . stop. 

Then, pray.

Allow yourself to feel the love of God for you and every person who has walked this earth. You are not valuable to God or those around you because of what you do or don't do.  You are valuable because you are you.

Your existence - your presence - is enough.

And perhaps when you talk to the youth you might ask, "Who do you want to be when you grow up?"  For it is our inner qualities, the qualities Caleb already possesses, like compassion, patience, gentleness, meekness, and love that are the true measures of a meaningful life.