I thought about writing tonight about something dangerous (at least for me) – I was inspired when I found out a piece of news about my ex on Facebook, and I got to thinking about the things that usually go wrong when I try dating. It wasn’t going to be an angsty post – actually it was meant to be a warning against my own angst, because it’s a habit of mine. I tend to like to throw people under the bus when they hurt me – it’s my way of hurting them back. I remember a guy who said I was “missionary dating” the last girl I dated – and I responded by freezing him out and not talking to him anymore. But I also dissed him to my friends, telling everyone how he hurt my feelings and how wrong he was.
So I thought about writing an honest post – a confession about insecurities, a confession about anger, about how my emotions are amplified about 100x when I date someone – but I decided not to.
Instead, I got to thinking about a guy who posted on his birthday about how he enjoyed hearing from everyone, thanking God for everyone, and spun the birthday wishes back to everyone else. It sounded a lot like Paul – like Paul who said things like “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” (Philemon 1:4) or “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you” (Colossians 1:3) or “we give thanks for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2.)
For some reason, in that space, it hit me all over again how life isn’t about me. I’ve realized that my energy is meant to be spread among a lot of different people, in a lot of different ways.
The only thing that really matters is people. And, whether or not I realize it (or act like it) the only thing that matters to me is having a lot of different people I call friends, a lot of people that I know and know well, a lot of people I can call at any given time and not be strangers. I realize that my friends back home in Berea are just as valuable as my co-workers, and vice versa.
I’ve realized that whether or not I write good songs won’t matter. Whether or not I make a lot of money won’t matter. Whether or not I get to see the world won’t matter. If I succeed doesn’t matter (or it depends on my definition of success.) How many people know my name (for the sake of knowing my name) doesn’t matter. The number of books I’ve read won’t matter (even though I love books!) The house I own won’t matter. The thoughts I captured in a blog won’t matter.
The only thing that will matter to me in the end will be the relationships I had – the pastors who taught me, the boss who mentored me, the co-workers I shared drinks with, the people I shared meals with, the friends I played soccer with, the people I catch up with, the memories I share with them, the people I saw get married, the kids I got to see in a play, the friend whose band I got to watch, the heartbroken friend I got to cry with, the people I get to support and watch succeed – those are the only things will matter to me.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that a lot of people’s money, time, and energy tend to go to one of two things:
Stuff, or experiences.
Lots of people like to have cool things (and I tend to fall in this category) like all of the movies they like, gear for their favorite hobbies, a nice place to live, a good car, plenty of things that are useful or entertaining.
Other people like to experience things – they like to eat out and have good food, travel, see cool, exciting, exotic things, and want to say that they lived with no regrets, etc.
But I can’t help but think that one day I’ll be on my deathbed and I won’t be thinking about whether or not I ended up seeing every musical that Stephen Sondheim had a hand in (my current goal) nor will I be regretting not seeing the beaches of Cancun. I won’t regret it if I never get married (at least, I’m saying that right now.)
But I would regret living life alone. I would regret if my friends didn’t know how much I love and appreciate them. I would regret if I turned down invitation after invitation to spend time with people (and I don’t think that’s just because I’m an extrovert.)
I want to know people, and be known by people – I can’t help but think that’s the only thing that really matters.