A few weeks ago, new school year looming ahead, I engaged in the annual shopping pilgrimage with my grandchildren. Shopping is a euphemism for me standing by with the cash while many changes of clothing result in a cart full of essential wardrobe pieces and a few bonus items. With shopping out of the way, we are then free to go to a favorite restaurant and talk about summer past and school future. Now in tweens and teens fashion, I started this tradition when their clothing was made by Jumping Beans and Gymboree. My grandchildren have my heart, unconditional love, my acceptance, and I’m proud of them. They are people. People matter. They matter.
I know that isn’t real life for everyone. We all have the same basic need to be accepted and assured we have significance, but for many people the deficit down in their soul is austere loneliness. They question their purpose and wonder if their life matters. I want you to know right now. Life matters. You matter.
I was born with a heart condition. Not the physical heart that pumps blood and oxygen to my cells, but the heart comprised of mind, emotions, conscience and will. My heart that craves fairness, desires equality, and wants everyone’s little world to be perfect. It’s devastating to learn about someone tormented by bullying, persecuted, cruelly mistreated by friends, or rejected by their families. The condition of my heart says, that should never happen. People are not animals that eat their young. People should not be victimized by people. My sense of fairness says, as we wish to be treated, so we should treat others. People matter. You matter.
Think for a moment over the past year. I hope you’ve come to this place with no worries or burdens, but maybe, like me, you’ve had many close friends who have been squeezed through the mill of personal trauma. In every instance these families have been pulled into circumstances beyond what they could conceive. Terminal illnesses, stroke, broken relationships, car accident, suicide – all forms of altered lifestyles thrust upon them without warning. Emotions become a troubled web of fear, anger, worry, depression, sadness, and raw feelings. Humanly speaking these friends and families are enduring more than they signed up for. People, especially those dealing with more than their share of oppression, need to feel valued and that they can be transparent without being a burden. People who devote their lives, sometimes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, need assurance that supportive efforts done in secret are appreciated. People matter. You matter.
During the shopping trip where this conversation started, I wondered about the environment at our schools. Are the teachers thoughtful and do they teach respect, acceptance, and good values while they explain mathematic equations and historical facts? Do the administrators care about ethics and sound character as much as academic principles? Students are not mass-produced robots with the same personalities, talents, interests, and abilities. Teachers are not cut from the same pattern either. How do our schools handle diversity in this dynamic mix of human beings with a wide age gap and deep social chasm? Schools succeed when they recognize the basic tenet – People matter. You matter.
We work hard in America. Studies have shown that working adults put in more than 40 hours at work, then go home work some more. I have talked to teenagers who go to school all day and hold down 2 or more part-time jobs in the evening and on weekends. I have friends who have taken aging parents into their homes to provide round the clock care. Our men and women in the military give up their freedoms of being able to go where they want to go anytime they wish. They give up their right to quit a job and find something that better suits their lifestyle. Parents sacrifice their wants to provide food, shelter, and a good education for their children. Do you ever feel like you give and give and give some more? In exhaustion we wonder, “When is it my turn? Why is this so hard? Does anyone notice? Do I matter?” Yes, dear friend. You matter.
If you use social media at all, you might wonder, as I do, why we so easily follow our train of thought right off track and into the pit of, “Do I matter?” After all, there are affirmations of worth all around us. Here are some quotes I’ve read just in the past week on plaques, posts, and backs of t-shirts. My eyes drink in the words intended to fill my soul – if I would believe them, they would be a positive remedy for negativity. What is in your heart as you read these affirming statements? One of my favorites is, “Be strong. You never know who you are inspiring.” But let’s tip toe through a few others and see if they pull positive thoughts to the forefront of your mind where the next step is action.
“This is the best day ever.” We choose our attitude.
“Start unknown. Finish unforgettable.”
“Has anyone told you how awesome you are?”
“Be yourself. Be awesome.”
“Never let success go to your head and never let failure get to your heart.”
“The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come.”
“Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.” And to this, I would add – “Don’t just wish for it, work for it.”
“Sometimes we have to make our own sunshine.” Yes. Yes. We do. And this is where my thoughts are going with this. The way to make sunshine is to joy up the day for someone else. The way to ignite the joy in yourself is to kindle it, share it, with other people. Make it your practice to tell people they matter. People matter. You matter.
The You Matter Marathon is fully explained here youmattermarathon.com. I could reiterate the program, but why not take a moment now and visit the website where you can learn the details, order your You Matter Cards and get the entire timeline for this event. If you have more questions than are answered on the website, you can contact Cheryl Rice, the founder of You Matter Marathon at her email address. [email protected]
Let us be kind to one another, for everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.