The weather has been beautiful. I have enjoyed sitting out on my porch after spending time working in my yard and enjoying what I have accomplished. Yard work and gardening are very enjoyable to me because I can see so clearly what I have accomplished. There were weeds there before, now there are not. There was tall grass there before, now there is not. There was nothing but dirt there before, now there are beautiful flowers. I’ve made a positive change.
I wish life could be as easy to see where we impact the world and those who come in and out of our lives. So often we are left to interpret how people receive us by reading their faces, deciphering what they say and seeing how they behave towards us over time. It is so easy to focus only on the negatives that we see or hear. So often, those are the loudest impressions and they overshadow everything else. But they aren’t always reality. The saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” is often true, but I prefer the saying, “the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil, it often gets replaced”.
You can’t take what every person says at face value. It is important to evaluate not only what a person says, but also who the person is. What is their character? With those you know well and are close to, it is usually easy to tell how your they are feeling and they usually tell you if you screwed up, made a bad choice, did something well, etc. It is wonderful to know that your good friend will let you know if you’re walking around with something hanging out of your nose or if something you’re doing is just plain gross (only a friend can do something like this). You can walk in confidence that what they say is honestly what they think and that they have your best interest at heart.
However, the times that are hardest and often affect us intensely, fortunately usually just for a short period of time, are when you feel like you’ve failed. You feel like someone is upset with you and yet you can’t get any answers. It’s a horrible feeling to look back on something you poured into, especially if it is your profession, and feel like you failed. In the end, maybe you did do something that wasn’t right. Genuinely look at what happened and try to learn from it. But you can’t let it hold you at that point for too long. You have to keep moving forward.
The other hard issue that comes into play is when we compare ourselves with others and find ourselves lacking. I went to an event today for Boy Scouts and watched all the boys getting so many merit badges and advancements. My youngest received one merit badge. Out of the blue, the thought came into my mind (and lingered for a few minutes) that I wished I were a better mom. After a couple beats, my thoughts switched to the fact that I had sent him to a camp to help him make good choices and that he’s realized since then that there is so much more to life. I made the right choice for my child, but I momentarily forgot this important piece of information at the time where there was so much achievement around me.
We put ourselves into very dangerous positions when we start to see all that others have accomplished and done and yet we have our “regular, old life” with nothing spectacular happening at the moment. When we compare what we see being posted on Facebook or Instagram, etc., there can be a tendency to think our lives are insignificant. When we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves coming up short, we can begin to look at life in a way that can lead to some really bad choices. I recently read a story about a student in college who was at school on a track scholarship. She was doing very well academically and had many friends. As with most teens, she interacted a lot in social media. At some point, she started to compare herself with all the good things she read in posts going on in others’ lives and decided she was lacking. She decided to take her own life because she felt she couldn’t meet up to what others were doing.
This should never be. Every life has so much meaning and purpose. I’ve heard so many times, mainly from those who are older, that they hoped they didn’t live to be too old. I find that so sad. As long as you are living there is a purpose for you. Even if you have Alzheimer’s or reach a point you can’t offer as much, maybe you are still around for someone else to learn something or impact his or her life.
When the one I loved took his life, he gave up the plans God had for him. Even though he had made some really bad choices and had put himself into a rough place in several ways, there was still so much positive that could have come from his life. He also took the opportunity away from his boys to know him more and see that something good can come from even the hardest situations.
With this in mind, I have heard of times when people are going through divorces or separations and the one who was walked out on says that it would have been easier if there had been a death. Having lost the one I loved to death instead of divorce, I’ve thought about that thought a few times. I see where having the other person alive would be hard by seeing them going on with their life and choosing someone else to be with, finding happiness or not and, the worst, having animosity and fighting between the two involved.
But, if I were given the choice between the two, I would definitely choose for him to be alive. The main reason for this is because with his being alive there would have been a chance for redemption in his life. By his taking his life, a changed life and redemption could never happen. He never had a chance to find freedom and purpose beyond his addiction and bad choices. That makes me profoundly sad.
Life is worth so much. Every life makes an impact to those around you, either positive or negative – that is your choice. But no matter what, you matter. What you do matters. If a group of people who knew you in some capacity, even if only by watching you, was asked, they could say how you made some type of impression on them. We speak into others’ lives in so many ways, in varying degrees that we will never know this side of heaven. Just keep moving forward in your days, make a difference with what you’ve been given and pray to make a positive difference.
Your life matters.
~ Joanna Lynn