What Matters in Life
It’s funny how little we think of the things that we do in life. Take me for instance, I’m your average 20-something year old, mixed-race, emotionally unsettled, socially challenged, under-paid, over-worked, under educated, over stressed, under confidant (not even sure if I can say that last bit, but it felt like it should go there), millennial – someone who doesn’t like to write in his kitchen, so he goes to a coffee shop to sit with strangers and write run on sentences at 5 bucks a coffee.
*inhales deeply after never-ending sentence that one way to long*
I act like the clothes that I buy at department stores are somehow statements of my originality, even though I wear one size fits all waist lines. I obsess over questions like:
“Why am I here?”
“What am I doing?”
“Does anything I do even matter?”
(And, typically, the most important as reflected by the actual activity of my day)
“How can I fit more Netflix into my day?”
Because let’s be honest - the good folks over at streaming heaven have EXTREMELY unreal expectations about the amount of TV I can fit into my day.
I mean, can we just have an honest conversation about that for a second??? How do they expect us to watch SOOOO MUCH TV!? I mean, a boy’s still gotta eat, Netflix. Take a break and let me catch up before releasing ANOTHER new show I have to watch!
Sorry, rant and rabbit trail over.
Where was I? Oh yeah - we think so little of the things we do.
Why is that?
If you were to ask me on a typical day what I think is important in my life, my bed and my family might be near the top of that list. While that’s not bad, (sleep is conducive to a healthy life style and I’m blessed with good family) it turns out that I wouldn’t put many things I’ve actually done or accomplished on the list at all. Why is that?
I’m not good enough.
I’m not accomplished enough.
I’m just not - enough.
Again - Why is that?
I mean, maybe that question really is redundant in this age of Taylor Swifts and Justin Biebers reminding all of us millennials that if you don’t own your own fleet of jets by the age of 23, are you really accomplishing anything?
Still, I think this is all garbage. Why do I say this? Because I met this guy at work.
Wow. Good reason right?
Well, let me flesh it out a little. This guy was kind of a loner, did his thing, didn’t talk to a lot of people - didn’t really seem to have much interaction. Me on the other hand, I’m the kind of guy that makes friends everywhere I go. By the end of my third week I was turning down party invites and getting the “Hey! I get to work with you! Yay!” Reactions as I walked through the door. It’s incredible how actually doing the minimal amount of work at minimum wage jobs sets you above your peers (good job society, good job).
This guy though, I started reaching out to him. Over the next couple of weeks we started talking a little at work. Then a little more, then a little more - and then like a Bob Ross painting you’ve watched go from a gentle wash of yellow and blue to a beautiful landscape with that tree and the other two trees (because every tree needs some friends), we had the beginning of a friendship.
One night, he opened up about his past; depression, his best friend committing suicide, time spent in Juvey, etc., and how that challenged his faith. Then, he told me that it was his faith that kept him together the last year – this brutal year since his best friend blew his brains out the back of his head. He then told me that he first heard of this faith when he was in juvenile detention because someone took time out of their week to come in and lead a Bible study.
He said that he got himself “some religion” and it changed his life form that day on. Three years later, he still holds to the faith and holds strong. He said he wouldn’t be where he was unless someone came into that detention center and just shared of their time with him.
This struck me - because I spent roughly 9 months doing the same thing. I got to be with kids who were crying their eyes out while telling me about their broken lives and I got to cry with them. I got to hold their hand as they prayed for the first time in their life. Watch some of them fall asleep in the Bible study and watch other’s not even blink out of complete and total rapture at the information they had never heard before.
I got screamed and cussed at.
I got hugged and cried on.
I got phone numbers to stay in touch.
I got explicative suggestions on where to go and what to shove where.
But this guy reminded me of something, something that I had forgotten.
See, the internet is so quick to remind me that in my used car that’s over 10 years old and riding up on 200,000 miles (that I pray to God lasts me at least another 2 years!), thrift shop steal clothes, used furniture apartment, and bargain aisle groceries that maybe I’m not that special or remarkable. Snapchat is always there to show me how much better a time someone else is having (especially now that the rape map — I mean, the map feature is enabled), and Facebook is my best avenue to remind me at how amazing everyone else is —but see, none of that matters.
Because, what I was reminded of is that kindness is what lasts. This guy, this loner dude’s life, was completely changed by someone taking time out of their week to just be kind to him.
That’s what’s important.
I hope every kid I got to encourage, hug, pray for and cheer on is doing awesome. I hope that the strangers I decide to smile at (instead of just looking past like they weren’t even there) genuinely have a good day.
True, I may never own a fleet of jets or get a number one single on the radio, write a book that inspires a movie, or even graduate from school that is slowly grinding what’s left of my soul into a fine powder — but I can make a determination to be kind. Because in my life, it was the kindness of others that impacted me and that’s ultimately the kind of kindness that gives my life worth and reminds me that the stuff I do actually does matter.