In light of recent events, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14th of this year and different discussions that have arisen as a result, I have been thinking about and making a mental list of what actually matters.
Then, on March 14th, I witnessed a car accident. A woman (probably not much older than myself) had to swerve out of the way for someone who dangerously turned into her lane from a side street. I was coming from the other direction and, as I passed, the woman had swerved into a ditch. I could see the underside of her car, which thankfully straightened itself out and didn't completely flip over.
When I turned around and stopped, several people had come over to check on the woman because people are more important than schedules.
What really matters?
It's questions like this that force us to leave behind the gun argument for two seconds.
Questions like this pop into my head when customers (myself included) complain about having to wait in line.
It's questions like this that force us to stop in our tracks and evaluate where we put our time, energy, money, and love.
We all complain and argue about the most petty things, and it is drastic events like the Parkland shooting that confront us with this question: What one thing would you sacrifice everything for? Is it worth being fought for?
I asked my friends on Facebook and my followers on Twitter what things really matter to them. Things that they couldn't live without. Things that are worth every sacrifice.
This is what they said (not in any particular order):
1. Peace with others
2. Faith (A relationship with Jesus)
4. Having rights
5. Making a positive difference for other people
6. Work ethic
8. Your dreams/Your journey to reach your goals
For worship purposes, catharsis, and to build relationships through a common bond regardless of religion, gender, race, or any other subgroup.
11. Advocating for those whose voices aren't heard
Not necessarily schooling.
This comment from a close friend especially stood out to me: "Relationships. Not (only) romantic ones, but familial, friendships, and especially the relationships with fellow believers. Above all the relationship with Christ is the most important. [Relationships are] always worth fighting and sacrificing for, and very few things, if any, should be allowed to be worth the breakdown of a relationship if we're living as God called us to."
Essentially, this list breaks down into three relative categories: 1. Intrapersonal development and identity (work ethic, constitutional rights, etc.) 2. Interpersonal relationships (Family, friends, etc.), and 3. A relationship between an individual and God.
Hopefully the next time we are tempted to complain about traffic or rant about guns, we remember this list. This is the stuff that matters. Don't let these necessities lose their power for the sake of preference or selfishness.
Even within that list, there are degrees of importance. In order for us to fight for the things that actually matter, we need to know what things are the most important to us (i.e. your constitutional rights are probably not as important as your family. Obviously they impact one another, but you need to know how to qualify their relative importance to each other.)
You also need to recognize that someone else may not have the same order of importance as you do. Invalidating someone else's priorities hinders interpersonal relationships (which therefore sacrifices yet another thing on the above list).
To help us put these indispensable things into perspective, I then asked my Facebook friends what doesn't matter.The things we can live without. The things that are not worth the sacrifice of time, life, energy, or money. (And yet, the things to which we often dedicate the most of ourselves.)
Here are some of those things:
1. TV, Movies
2. Winning at board games
3. Fighting over things that are not in the Bible
5. Social media
7. Shopping (and waiting in lines!!)
10. Weed control
11. Matching socks
12. Winning an argument
13. Grades and academics
16. People pleasing
17. Most material goods
For me personally, this includes a house, a car, and luxury items. We need shelter and some mode of transportation, but we don't need nice houses with fancy furniture and decorations in nice neighborhoods with a nice car.
We need food to survive but, in America, we live lavishly and selfishly. We have an unhealthy relationship with food. Food has become more than just a means of survival: we now base our schedule on when and what we are eating.
20. Achieving your dream/goals
The person that said this also said that the journey and process to reach those aspirations and small victories each day are more important than actually reaching that one big goal.
21. Winning anything
I know there may be things you would add to either list or move around, and please do! Take the time to make your own lists and categorize them too. What links all of the unimportant things together? What about the important things?
If our time, money, and effort are being mostly put into the unimportant things on the second list, we are wasting time, throwing away our money, and our efforts are in vain.
We know what actually matters. We talk about it a lot. May these lists, and recent events, be a challenge to each of us to live like what matters actually matters and to starve what, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't matter at all.
When we change our perspective on what does and doesn't matter and live like we believe it, our lives will be changed because we will nourish the important, life-giving trees in our lives instead of the weeds.