This piece first appeared at creatingchange360.com when I guest posted in August of this year. In case you didn’t read all of it then, here you go!
I’ll be back from our break on October 21st, and new content will resume then. Thanks for reading!
Recently, I asked a question in a twitter conversation about attending a particular conference. I hadn’t put much thought into it, really; it was asked sincerely, but mostly in an effort to keep the conversation moving:
“What if I’m ‘just’ a wife and mom, and don’t have any interest in ‘making it big’?”
I was referring mostly to a music career I had given up and longed once again to pursue. The response, though, would change my life:
“You don’t have to make it big, you just have to make it matter.”
Those last seven words have stuck with me for the past few weeks, and made the simplest but most profound change in my life and the entire world around me.
I’ve always lived intentionally in some areas of my life. We don’t keep a lot of clutter and make every effort to purge things we don’t need regularly. I function best with lists and schedules, and have them everywhere, relating to every area of life. These things keep me sane, I’m sure, but this new outlook is far more radical.
I wasn’t sure how I could make my music “matter”, since I didn’t think I was interested in writing life-changing songs or anything equally impactful. It turns out that wasn’t important (yet?), as my life just might have a different plan. In the weeks that followed that conversation, I found a new passion in reaching out to others. Specifically, to women – to share with one other transparently, to know we are all more alike that we’d like to let on, to create a safe space to find hope and encouragement wherever we are individually. To be real with one another. It’s a work in progress – and may likely include music, or photography, or any other outlet I discover – but it’s made me think about how I go through life.
Whether or not we know our purpose on this planet or are still trying to discover one… whether we think we have it all together or think we’re barely keeping our heads above water… whether we are in a season of joy or peace or a season of turmoil… we can make this one decision: to live life like it matters, in order to create a life that truly does matter.
To wake up like each day matters. Like it just may hold something for us.
To treat others like they matter, because they do. And because maybe, just maybe, nobody else makes them feel like it. You never can be sure.
To parent our children and provide a safe, clean, loving home for them like it matters, even on days when that very work we might cherish more than anything is also more exhausting than anything.
To sing, or paint, or craft, or run, or build, or write, or serve, or whatever you do as a hobby like it matters, because it may be the blessing someone is looking for – or the encouragement for them to find their own passion.
To go to work on a daily basis like it matters, even if it’s the last thing you wish you were doing day in and day out. Maybe especially then. Because it could be in those places and those moments that you find opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those around you.
I promise you, making a difference in the lives of others will have an even greater positive impact on your own life.
Practically, I wish I had a “how to” for you. I imagine it’s different for each of us, and even then I don’t feel like there is anything tangible I could offer you. For me, it looks like a simple reminder that I try to keep at – or more likely bring back repeatedly as it gets shoved out of – the front of my mind.
You just have to make it matter.
What you start or finish might be less substantial than someone next to you doing the same thing. The material things you have might seem far less. The successes may seem fewer and the failures more, but the comparisons don’t matter. What matters is what you choose to do with your time, your talents and your resources.
Inadvertently, that’s looked around here like less TV and no more Candy Crush. (I know, right? But truthfully, after the withdrawal symptoms faded I really don’t miss it!). It’s looked like more time discovering what I’m good at (and not so good at!) and what I have to offer the world. It’s looked like getting up earlier or staying up later nearly every day. It has looked like A LOT of honest talks reminding myself – and surrounding myself with others that remind me – that I have anything to offer the world. I struggle greatly with that, and I know many of you might, too.
Living a life that matters isn’t easy, but I think that’s why so many people get to the end of their time here and feel like maybe they haven’t. I don’t want that for me; I doubt you want that for you. You don’t have to change the entire world, just make choices that make you proud. Still too much? Perhaps just start with thinking about each moment as a choice to be made, and try to make the most impactful one, most of the time. I think the changes you see might just encourage you to keep at it, and you’ll find yourself looking back at some point in the future saying, “Yes! I have made it matter.”