Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Matters?

That's what my middle dude, who is now 14, would say when he meant "So what?" when he was a toddler.

Me: "You have toys spread out all over your room."

Middle dude: "What matters?"

I have gone through many up and down periods in my life centered around answering that question. I'll admit that I get tripped up by the concept that what some people are doing matters more because it's more visible, it's major outreach, it touches many lives. Those people are amazing for doing what they are doing.

But comparing yourself to them is a slippery, slippery slope - one that cannot be easily climbed back up once you find yourself sliding down.

In the last year, I have found myself slowly creeping down that slope. Circumstances in our life have dictated that I spend less time volunteering and doing much of what made me so happy with my church and beyond, and focus more time on situations that are not so fun but must take priority. And it stinks to high heaven.

It has made me feel unreliable and like I have abandoned many who could always count on me. I have people from all directions wanting more from me; and I have two paths to choose from.

1.) Give everyone a little, spread myself too thin and do no one any good.

2.) Give up a lot of what I do for some people and focus on others who take priority.

Both paths leave people unhappy with me, and leave me emotionally exhausted and upset that I'm letting someone down.

You'll notice that neither of these avenues has me going on mission trips, speaking out for or raising money for causes important to me, or doing anything that makes a difference in lots of lives.

So we're back to square one. What matters?

Well, I don't think there is an answer to such a trick question. Or at least a definitive one. Obviously it is different for each person, but even to each person this is an evolving concept - one that is a finicky beast.

We all have foundational things that inherently matter. For me that is God and family. Those do not change. But beyond that, it's like that carnival ride where the whole thing goes in a circle while each individual compartment with people in it also twirls. Sometimes they twirl in the same direction and sometimes in opposite directions. Add to that the differing speeds of the two, and it's no wonder you spend your time on it wondering which way you're going, when you'll get there, and was that last night's curly fries I just tasted at the back of my throat?

Trying to follow what matters in your life sometimes feels like that when the concept beyond your foundation is always evolving. Or is that the problem? Should it not always be evolving? How can it not be?

I have no idea at this point. I just know that I feel like I've spent a lot of time chasing my own tail this past year only to realize recently that I DON'T HAVE A TAIL.

So what do you think?