When We Wonder If Our Lives Matter At All

Several people have commented that they appreciate Chapter 9 of my book, A Beautiful Disaster ( I appreciate their words of affirmation). Chapter 9 is titled, “The God Who Sees Me.” And so I wanted to share some thoughts along those lines.

How do we determine whether our lives matter? By what do we measure success? Do we measure it by the praises of those around us or by our popularity? I don’t think we can measure it by the number of people who continually fawn over us. They could be fawning over us for all of the wrong reasons or fawning over us one day and then calling for our crucifixion the next-like they did to Jesus. And I don’t think we can measure our worth by those who ignore us or reject us–by those who refuse to give us the time of day.

Still, none of us like to feel ignored or invisible, constantly criticized, or rejected. Do you ever wonder if your life really matters? I have wondered that and sometimes I still do.

This piece is for you and for me. I wrote if for the Sunday Refreshments feature of the Litfuse Blog. It is called “Sunday Refreshments: Jesus in the Wilderness of  Our Invisibility.” 

That first night our new, faith sharing facilitator asked our group of about forty to “use one word to describe yourself”. I heard words like ‘tenacious’, ‘honest’, ‘kind’, and ‘passionate’. And yet, I was stunned by the honesty and vulnerable confessions of one of the most beautiful and gentle souls I’ve met in this life—a confession made to what was then a room full of strangers. “Invisible,” she said. “I’ve always felt invisible.”

Another time, my not yet one-year-old daughter and I were sitting in the university cafeteria. Matthew had some sort of intellectual disability. Each day one of his main jobs was to refill the napkin dispensers. This day, my daughter wouldn’t stop staring at him as he approached our table. She had recently developed the habit of staring people down. I think it was her way of studying the world.

She stared at Matthew for longer than usual. And so I stammered out an apology on her behalf as he stopped to converse with us and tickle her chin. I’ll never forget his response to me.

You can read the rest here ( < click on ‘here’).

*****Click to the right on my book cover (or on this link right here) and you can order A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness from Byron and Beth Borger at Hearts & Minds Books. They are independent booksellers that I admire and support. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble or order it through Amazon.




2 thoughts on “When We Wonder If Our Lives Matter At All

  1. Marlena! I’m sorry to comment not on your post (well. Sort of) but this surprised me so much. Was Matthew at the university you and I have in common? If so, he does not know this, but I have a friend who wrote a (silly) song about him and his crucial napkin replenishing job.

    I had a math class on M, W, F with a few friends and we always seemed to end up in a somewhat large (for us) lunch group on those days. This was my sophomore year. My freshman year I hated everybody so having a little lunch group was really fun for me. We were a hodgepodge group of (in my opinion) friendly and somewhat silly people. I was fed up with the overly serious and often rude atmosphere at school and another friend and I were determined to create a kinder, more humorous campus (we were young and idealistic). We also timed our lunch such that nearly every day, the napkins were refilled where we sat. It bugged me that NO ONE said thank you for the napkins, so I always told the napkin refiller (always the same guy, maybe Matthew?) a sincere thank you.

    Which escalated into later discussions of how we would all be lost without someone refilling the napkins and how no one appreciates what he does, and then I had a friend who wrote music who wrote a song called “Napkin Guy” and all I remember of it was “He brings us napkins, so we can wipe our face.”

    So I was really excited to read about the napkin guy years later and I am so glad you were kind to him. Not that you would be otherwise, but we didn’t know each other then at all (not on the internet like we do now 🙂 )

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