Did you know that the most powerful weapon in the world isn’t an atom bomb? A nuclear warhead from North Korea could potentially cause World War III, but it’s not as powerful a weapon as your tongue. The words we say can literally undo another person. (Don’t worry – this isn’t exactly my typical James 3 leaning – it’s new material.)
From the time I was a young teenager I had an obsession with other’s opinions of me and the words they had to say. I spent too much time eavesdropping and wondering what the latest gossip was about myself. I wanted people to love me. No – I NEEDED people to love me. To be sought after, desired, and respected was the ultimate goal.
At the ripe age of 18, the world was at my fingertips. Graduating high-school, I was certain the world would be handed to me on a Silver Platter – because I “deserved” it. After all, I had (almost) a 4.0 GPA at Olathe Northwest and my teachers and spiritual mentors adored me. But life presented obstacles I didn’t expect. And character flaws left unchecked developed into life-detours that delayed my personal progression toward the man God desired/desires for me to become.
So there I was – having a beer with my best-friend. We were “watching the Royals game” but deep down, we both wanted to connect on a deeper level. And if there’s anything my best-friend can do, it’s peel back my complex emotional layers and get to the core of my heart. It always takes time and a good amount of questions, but if he’s patient enough, he gets there. And I’ve always been super grateful for it.
I was expressing frustration with certain life-situations and predicaments and he started asking things like, “All cards on the table – what do you want?” I’d explain life goals like financial betterment, healthy fitness levels, and relationships going the distance. Then he’d ask, “How would that make you feel?” And then, he hit me with a bomb. I can’t remember the exact wording but it was something along the lines of, “Why do you matter?” (Brief disclaimer, he thinks I matter. He just wanted to know if and why I thought I mattered.)
To be frank – that question wrecked me. And it wasn’t his fault. It was just that in the matter of about 15 minutes, he’d brought me to a vulnerable state and brought up my self-worth. I froze. He’d found the heart of the issue, and I didn’t have an answer. I realized that as much as I wanted to say that I believed I mattered, I didn’t really believe it. The 18 year old me would be so disappointed with the 26 year old me. The world couldn’t possibly appreciate the things I’d “accomplished” with my life over the last 8 years.
I broke things down a bit more, myself. Explaining to my friend that I liked to think of my culmination of worth as a legacy. Something I’d break down into the “Funeral Effect.” (Don’t worry, it’s not as dark as it sounds.) But everyone dies. So at that moment when you die and everyone is gathering for your funeral – How many people show up? What do they say about you? Did you actually make a difference? Will there be stories of people having overcome obstacles because of me? Will hearts have been restored more often than been broken by me? Did I hold anyone back, or did I always seek their betterment over my own? The bottom line, I want to make a difference. And in that moment, I wasn’t so sure if I was fulfilling one of my deepest heart desires.
I love the man that took the time to ask me those deep questions and that put up with my word-vomit as I attempted to answer them, while also holding back potential tears as it was (surprisingly to me) a raw subject to process. He assured me that I was an Encourager, Friend, and Leader – that his world wouldn’t be the same without me and that he knew of several others that would feel the same way. He breathed life back into my fragile bones and I walked away feeling loved, encouraged, and respected.
But at the end of the day – it really comes back to his original questions of, “Why do YOU think that you matter?” And to be honest, I’m still processing that. Questions like that and goals set up to reach certain destinies have the potential to change one’s entire lifeline. I think I’m supposed to be a writer and a counselor/encourager within the context of relationships; I think that someday I may end up being a spiritual teacher in some younger people’s lives; and I’ve got dreams. But at this moment, I find myself still searching my heart for the answer to the question, “Why do you matter?” And I’d love your prayers for me as I do just that.