So, the last post I wrote blew up a little compared to other things I have written. Most of my posts are read by a couple hundred people. The last one was read by a couple thousand. Thank you to everyone who shared, reposted, retweeted, or told other people about it. I’m pleased you found it helpful, and I was humbled by the attention.
Then, something interesting happened. I felt obligated. At the outset of this blog, I committed to posting something once a week, but after the last post, I felt like I had some responsibility to keep commenting on timely issues.
I thought I should write about the religious freedom acts that were in the news. However, I couldn’t find the words. I hadn’t actually read any of the bills. Besides, as I study and practice my religion, I find that it robs me of the freedom I might otherwise exercise. My religion teaches me to treat everyone with dignity. Everyone. And I’m not just talking about races, classes, or groups of unknown people. I’m talking about people that have directly been jerks to me. My religion teaches me to even be kind to them. That’s not freedom; that’s calling me to be something better than I might freely choose.
So then I thought I would write about my dad, the man who taught me even more than Jesus about how to treat people. But April 3rd was the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. That hit a little too close to home, and though I can talk about him for days on end, I’ve never been able to put in writing exactly how frickin’ amazing a human being he was. (If you have 20 minutes or so, you can listen to me talk about him here.)
So here’s what I did. Two weeks ago, I convinced myself that because it was Holy Week I was too busy to write. Last week, I convinced myself that because I was on vacation I couldn’t possibly write.
But the truth is there was something far more personal going on.
Years ago, I would have taken the attention from a popular post and done whatever I could to capitalize on that, to bring more attention to myself, to be known. One nice thing about getting older is that I have come to believe there is something more important than being known; it’s to matter.
When you discover that your life matters, man, you have struck gold. Some people can matter to a lot of people, to be known in a substantive way by many. But many people are just known. (Here’s a tip for guys. If “known” is the path you’re traveling, it’s actually pretty easy. Get a video camera, find some creative way to hit yourself in the crotch, post it on-line, and add a Homer Simpson or Family Guy sound effect. Known. Done.)
But to matter is what I think most people are looking for. To know that even a small part of this world will be a different and better place because you were here. To know that someone’s life is better because of you. That’s better, deeper, and richer than a thousand people knowing your name.
When you know you matter, you don’t care about being known.
And here’s the best part. If you’re striving for mattering, then you’ve already won. You’re there. Because your life matters. It does. It does.