Significance is an interesting contemplation. How do I make my mark? How long will I have to get it right? Will tech bring me the promised advances and freedoms so many promise?
Part of the battle of life (and our spiritual battles as well) involves navigating our own personal worth. To friends, family, at work – to God – to meaning itself. Some do better with this than others, and sometimes this is a fluid conversation we are having with ourselves. As circumstances change our significance becomes more or less solid. There is no doubt that when we feel more significant we experience more personal peace, right?
Many define success by portfolio. What I accumulate and what I pass on to others captures imagination and provides hope of significance. Never mind there are vultures to take their share and that there’s a good chance what we pass on to others will be squandered or distributed harshly (death and taxes comes to mind).
We each choose the parameters by which we define our own significance. It is germane to the human race in every century. Because of turbulence there are things we can control and those which we cannot. This includes the satisfaction of our work life, our family experiences, who we choose for friends, and where we spend our time, talents, and treasures.
Even the most conscientious mom and dad who are being faithful to prepare and launch their children into life must make way for their own kids’ choices. Love. Friendships. Accomplishments. Hopes and dreams. All can evaporate before the march of time. Or not. I am not trying to be bleak here. Just realistic.
Consider our historic president, Abraham Lincoln. He presided over ultimate national turbulence and gave the complete sacrifice for his principles. I have contemplated Lincoln and hold him in high regard for his accomplishments, but time and chance overtake us all. Lincoln has been dead for 150 years and his picture remains on our five dollar bill. But how long will we even continue to use paper money? How is the teaching about his life and his presidency being modified? Who is living today who has met Abraham Lincoln? And so it goes.
You have also heard it said you can’t take it with you. This is true. Some people creatively try, but in the end this is an impossibility (there is only so much room in the box). I am not defined by what I accumulate, no matter what I am taught through media, leaders, and culture.
When it comes down to it, there must be something greater than we can see – or we are destined for oblivion. Our death is the ultimate looming destiny, and there is not one thing we can do to stop it. For me this leads to finding and embracing a Story bigger than myself. It is the only way I know how to make sense of my life in light of hoped for personal significance.
King Solomon of Israel, arguably one of the richest kings in history (hard assets) reflects upon his life: the vanity of having, of doing, and being. At the end of his swan song (Ecclesiastes 12) he opines: “the conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
Quite the summary. Here are some things we can consider concerning significance:
√ I have given my own significance a lot of thought
√ I feel solid about where I come from and where I am going
√ I feel solid on my personal core
√ I have identified unanswered philosophical and faith questions
√ I am confident my soul matters to my Creator
√ I value being one of Jesus’ friends
Searching with you,
Dave and Burnadette