I’m the last one left in the hot tub. The stillness settles over me as I stare up at the sixty foot cottonwood tree in our back yard. Leaves have begun to sprout today or yesterday. Out of nowhere, I get choked up and emotional, tears streaming down my face. Crying makes me self-conscious, so I hope nobody comes out right now. Why I am feeling emotional? Is it the corona virus? It doesn’t feel like it. It has been a while since I cried so I am probably overdue.
And suddenly I know what it is: I want to matter. And then the shame. Why do I want to matter? That doesn’t seem humble. My thoughts turn toward God.
“Why do I want to matter? Why don’t I matter? My family of origin never speak to me. My kids are growing up and distancing themselves. There is nobody from school; elementary, high or college that I am still in touch with.”
You do matter. Your family loves you. You are doing good work in the world that changes people’s lives.
“But that’s not enough!”
You matter to me.
“Again, it’s not enough. Why is it never enough?! And is it really true?”
If you only ever matter to yourself, that would be good enough.
That thought stops me. Is it true? If I only mattered to myself, would that be enough? Is that really my work in the world…. for me to matter to myself? Isn’t that pretty selfish?
The peak of the emotion has now passed and a stillness settles into my heart again. As if the simple awareness that this is what has been troubling me is enough for now.
What if I do matter? Do people that end up mattering to the masses ever start out wanting to matter so much? Or do they just follow their passions, and try to do good? If mattering to one individual isn’t enough, how will I ever matter to more people? Is it what I really want anyway- to matter? Is doing good in my little slice of the world not enough?
I am learning over and over again that “enough” is a word and concept that trips me up at every turn. I am constantly bringing myself back to enough.
Enough is a decision, not a measurement. When will I just decide that I am enough, that I matter? I am tired of this again.
My exhausted mind goes back to the tree in the back yard. Does the tree matter? If we had to remove it, it would be SO SAD. It provides shade in the summer for half of our yard. The birds sing from its branches. It would literally be devastating to the beauty of our yard and I would pay good money to do everything to save it before removing it safely if it came to that. To me, the tree matters. And it’s just a tree!
Why can’t I see that I matter? I am so much more valuable than a tree. I provide emotional shade to my kids, my husband, and myself. I do matter to my husband. His unceasing love tells me that much. I am sure I have made lasting impressions on people throughout my life, unbeknownst to me. I have tried my entire life to be a good person, to do good in the world. It must have counted for something to someone. It just feels fleeting and unsure. How do I know unless people tell me I have made an impression on them, taught them, made a difference in their life?
But yet, I’m not great at doing that for people that matter to me. So maybe I have to look for ways that other people matter to me before I will see that I matter to other people.
Mattering has to be real to me before I will be real to it.