As I begin this piece, I realize I may have addressed this area in one way or another in previous posts. I was prompted to write about it once again after experiencing a rather low point the last few days.
The past three years have been difficult for all of us. During this same stretch of time, both my parents passed away, I left a career I loved, and I moved multiple times. It is only within the last month or so that I’m starting to recognize my own face in the mirror. I’ve settled into a place where I’m surrounded by nature and miles away from the hustle and bustle of life.
In short, I’m finally feeling like I don’t have to be in survival mode anymore. So, naturally that’s when my body decides to process all the trauma I’ve been suppressing. It’s delightful!
I began reflecting not only on the last three years but on my entire life. (When I go, I go deep.) My train of thought then segued to the big question:
When I’m gone what will I leave behind?
I would venture to say most (if not all) of us want to leave something behind which lives on long after we are gone. In my humble opinion, the greatest legacy, the most significant achievement is raising a family. Notice I didn’t just say having kids. I’m talking about sowing everything you have into these little lives God entrusts to you.
I always believed I’d have a family of my own one day, but that hasn’t happened yet. Does that mean my life is insignificant?
It’s a serious question and one I’m sure many of us face at some point. As we dive deeper down into this rabbit hole, the next question might be:
What makes a life significant?
Here’s where I’m going to perhaps stir up some Kat Controversy, but that is nothing new. I believe the miracle of you being here renders you significant. That’s not just a Biblical perspective (though that should be sufficient), it’s also supported by science. Despite our advances in technology and medicine, there will never be another person exactly like you ever again.
Sure, we’ve got cloning and AI (both fascinating and terrifying to me), but even identical twins are not one and the same. You may be saying to yourself, “OK, so I’m one of a kind, but I’ll never do or be anything significant. I’m not famous or wealthy or anything like that. I haven’t got any special skills or something that sets me apart.”
How can you be significant if no one’s watching?
I believe with our social media landscape, we’ve gotten a warped perspective on what is relevant or significant. We’re becoming trained to believe follows, likes, and such are the yardstick to measure our lives by.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s face it, someone’s video can go viral for the most banal, silly or even ridiculous reason. Sure, they had 1 million views, but does that make what they did significant? I would offer significance should be measured more in terms of long-term effect rather than short-term reaction. The viral video may be forgotten three minutes after it’s been viewed, or it might resonate with the viewer for years to come.
It’s what happens later which determines significance.
Some of the most memorable events in my life came in small, seemingly innocuous moments: an unsolicited hug when it was most needed, a word of encouragement for no special reason, a hearty laugh at a funny story I was telling, just sitting with me in silence so I wouldn’t feel alone.
We may not recognize how significant someone or thing is until later on. Might I suggest we begin to change our perspective a bit? If we can agree each human life has significance, can we start to view one another and our interactions through a lens of appreciation?
Am I oversimplifying things?
I’m not saying it’ll be easy, and there certainly are people we encounter whose significance is appreciated only when they’re far, far away. We won’t get along with everyone all the time. And there may be some folks who we just don’t like, or they don’t like us, or whom we can’t stand to be around. That’s real. I’m not denying it.
I guess my point is if we can attempt to value each other, it’s a good place to start. If I look at you as someone significant, and you can look at me the same way, isn’t it possible we’ll treat each other with a little bit more respect and courteousness? It’s not a guarantee, but once again, it’s a place to start.
But what happens if we end up just living an ordinary life? If we never make headlines or do something special, then what? Was our whole life a waste of time?
Did you not read the part where you are significant because God created you? You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
God doesn’t make mistakes.
Your life is already significant. But if you truly desire to leave your mark, start with giving. Give your time, your energy, your resources. Give without expecting anything in return. Give generously. And it doesn’t have to be money. There is blessing in giving, but never give to be blessed.
Though you may never make the news or go viral on TikTok, you never know how your small act of kindness may be significant to someone else. I can think of many times when someone smiled at me, and my whole day turned around.
You want to be significant (more than you already are, of course)? You want to leave a legacy? Give. Share. Try.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. I’m glad you’re here because you are significant.
Look forward to hearing from you.