“Then what is it that you want??” my friend pleaded, a little exasperated.
“I don’t know. I want to matter.
I want my work to matter. I want to feel like I’m free to do the work that brings me joy and life–work that is based in my strengths–and not feel like I have to fight for the ability or permission to do so. I want a place here.”
And then I felt sucker punched. I know better.
The combination of my friend’s next words and a stirring in my spirit knocked a reminder back into my senses:
I do matter.
And I have a place here.
But not because of anything I do or have done.
I know better, but lately that isn’t enough.
It’s hard to remember that I matter in the absence of the affirmation and acknowledgement that I crave. When someone else hears “Well done” for work I thought was “mine”. Then I’m embarrassed because I’ve been told that I’m not supposed to need those things to be happy.
The Christian life is one that’s supposed to be fulfilling when we “fix our eyes on the unseen” and when we “work for God not for men.” But it’s hard to remember when all that work is riddled with failures and actually worsens insecurities. When I get stuck on feeling overlooked and I forget I wasn’t doing that work for recognition’s or perfection’s sake in the first place.
It’s hard to remember I matter when I don’t fit in. When the pattern of my life doesn’t match other people in my gender, in my age group, in my profession, in my lack of “real” profession, in my denomination, in my lack of denomination…When I don’t fit the mold that other people seem to fit and they seem happy. When my natural sensibilities seem to be at odds with what’s expected of me. When it feels like I’m the only one who loves what I love with the fire that I do, and loves the way I love.
When all that loving barely dents the loneliness.
It’s hard to remember I matter when it seems like my questions go unheard. When it seems like I’m the only one asking them. When I’m the only one who fears we’re blindly accepting practices and values we don’t have to. When I see a problem coming and it’s dismissed like I’m crazy. When it feels like I’m the only one who’s concerned we’re not asking enough questions. Or even the right ones. When all those questions don’t bring any solutions or me any peace.
Go ahead. Point out the 50 counter examples that came to mind about how my assessment of worth is flawed. Fire away with the Christian platitudes and verses that answer all this Point out any successes, or better, chastise me for not giving the family and community that loves me enough credit.
Even if you’re right, and you probably are, we still have a problem.
I still couldn’t see it.
And even if I can see it after you explain it to me, I won’t remember it tomorrow. I know a lot of verses, and I’m fluent in platitudes. I even got an “A” in Theology. (really.)
Correct thinking won’t save me. All that “truth” still hasn’t set me free. The only Truth that sets me free is a person. How can I forget that in Christ I have been made complete? How can I forget in light of the Cross?
Nothing. Else. Matters.
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because in a week from Friday, Someone hung Himself on that gruesome Cross and made a final declaration of whom and all that matters.
And I am His Beloved.
And I can run back to that cross for answers. I can see that the Man who hung there, saying what He did, doing what He did, is Lord of my days. It’s for His glory that I work. It’s by His provision I have what I need, it’s with my hand in His that I walk through these painful places.
And that shall be enough for me today.