Affirmation and Significance

In our current culture, we are overwhelmed with the need to be affirmed by other people…preferably by a lot of people. What drives us to keep checking our Facebook or Instagram account after we make a post? The question that keeps lingering inside is, “Who and how many people liked my post?” I am completely guilty of this, yet even as I type this, I think to myself, How silly!  It’s silly because it shows that we put so much energy into things that really don’t matter in the long run. So what if we get 5 likes or 5,000 likes. By the end of the day, most likely nobody will even remember our post.

We tend to think that the more people know and talk about something, the more important it must be.

–Brennan Manning

How true that all of us buy into this myth, at one time or another. Yet when we look back on our lives, what were the things that really made a significant impact? What were the defining moments? Most likely, they were things that didn’t receive a lot of recognition from the crowd.  I think back on my life, and I think about a teacher who turned a small ESL (English as a Second Language) class into a family so that we who were intimated by a new culture and language could feel at home. I think about the joy of finding a “true friend” for the first time as a teenager, a friend that I could trust and with whom I didn’t need to pretend to be who I’m not. A friend who will stick with me for life. I think of a family that welcomed me in and gave me not only a second home but also the spiritual wisdom and guidance I needed. None of these people were recognized publicly for what they did for me. Yet each one of them impacted my life in signifiant and lasting ways.

When I look back on my life at the end, I hope that I could say I had a similar impact on someone else. By then, maybe I will have enough wisdom to know that this type of “ripple effect” matters so much more (eternally) than an Instagram post that goes viral and gets a million “likes” (temporarily).

Yet, if I was to be honest, often times I feel that I don’t matter if I’m not recognized by others. I buy into the lie that the more number of people like me, the more important I am. If I don’t matter to others, then I must not matter at all. So I keep trying. I put on a version of me that I think will be more accepted and liked by people. But the more try, the more I realize that I’m not enough. It becomes an endless race – I may matter to some, but I don’t matter as much as someone else. But I feel the need to keep trying, because I don’t want others to find me lacking.

Pretty soon, I get exhausted. I am so off-focused that I’m no good (or even hurtful) to those closest to me. I lose perspective of what really matters. I get lost. My soul gets weary. This is about the time I realize: I just want to go home.

Come back to Me.

In the stillness of the night, from the depth of my soul, I hear a whisper.

It’s the same voice, communicated in different words: Come to Me. Seek Me. Knock. Abide.

It’s the same message: Beloved…You matter to Me. 

It went like this in my journal.

Me: Jesus, I am tired from carrying heavy loads. For too long. Too long, Jesus. I am tired. Most days I am disappointed in myself. Or I compare myself. I am too sensitive to the lies that enter my head that I am not enough. I do not matter. I don’t measure up.

Jesus: Shhh, I’m here. I’m still right here, Beloved. You matter to Me. Make yourself at home in My love. Let go. Lean in. Rest in My love. And if we have to do this 30 more times today until you start to ‘get it,’ it’s OK. I’m not going anywhere. And if you forget by tomorrow and we have to do this 50 more times, it’s OK. I’m not going anywhere. I will never, ever leave you. You matter to Me.

All of a sudden, I’m undone. I’m found in His love, and nothing else matters. I regain the nature of a child. Children only seek affirmation and sense of significance from the eyes of their parents. Nobody else’s opinion matters. I’m back in the arms of my Daddy who loves me, who has been there all along, who tells me that I matter to Him more than I’ll ever know, and all is right with my world. Or I’m like a bride walking down the aisle…and my Groom’s eyes are fixed on me alone. I know, without a doubt, that I am His delight. My heart is so full it could burst.

Sadly, I will most likely lose sight of this again. Maybe five minutes from now. But in this moment, I don’t need anything else.

I matter to Him…and that’s enough. The fear of being found lacking by others goes away. From this place of fullness, perhaps a ripple effect will take place…that will have a lasting, significant impact, not only in my life but also in the lives of those I encounter.

And that’s worth more than a million “likes.”

 

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies screamed inside go silent
The moment You begin
You remind me
Of things forgotten
You unwind me
Until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

Steffany Gretzinger, “Letting Go”

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