What If You Didn’t Matter? Part 1



What If You Didn’t Matter?  Part 1

By Michael Misja, NCFF


Did you ever have the experience of listening to a talk and having one statement jump out, causing you to not hear another word the speaker said?  That happened to me a few weeks back.


At a men’s breakfast a speaker who had just returned from a mission’s trip was lamenting the fact that so few men were involved in the challenging work of helping the oppressed overseas.  He said, “a hundred years from now no one will care about the car you drive, the size of your house, or the mundane things you waste your time with.”  Rather than going with his intent to motivate me to action, my thoughts went a different way.  I thought, “a hundred years from now no one will even know I existed, much less care about how I spent my time.”  The thought disarmed me.


Now before you react ask yourself what you remember about your great-grandfather or great-grandmother. Not much, I would guess. Most of the people I have asked knew very little about their family a couple of generations removed.  My oldest sister, Julie, compiled a wonderful history of our parents’ lives called, “Yaksemash”.  I was surprised that my parent’s grandchildren and great grandchildren show minimal interest in the rich stories of their heritage.


Our culture is driven by slogans like “maximize your potential”, “be all you can be”, or “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.  In the Christian community we are told it is critical that we work diligently to leave a legacy of virtue for future generations. Often we are heavy with guilt because we didn’t give 100% or behave selflessly.


What if, a hundred years from now, there is silence.  No one remembers you. Your life doesn’t matter to anyone.


Don’t worry-this is not gloom and doom. In fact, I think it may be a path to freedom.


I love this old joke which puts things into perspective:

“When I was 20 I used to worry about what others thought of me,

When I turned 40 I no longer cared what people thought about me,

When I reached 60 I realized-no one is thinking about me!!!!

Those of you who have reached the seventh decade of your life understand the truth of this joke.


Let me express this idea a different way.  What if you didn’t have to be concerned with what people think of you or even what you think of yourself?  Can you imagine living a life where you are not being assessed or judged?


Inside of each person is a self-valuing system, a grid developed by which we measure our worth on a continual basis. Whether coming from our parents, our culture, our church or just ourselves, a standard is developed by which we determine self acceptability.


Standards are good when they serve as reference points to help guide our behaviors and thoughts. They are bad when used to determine whether or not we are acceptable as a person. Our standards can become tyrannical when we weave them into a oppressive system we must satisfy, a grid or code of acceptability, ruthlessly monitoring our lives.


Let me give a simple example.  Last weekend I tried to decide whether or not to watch a football game.  I accessed my grid to determine whether I could justify spending time on an unfruitful activity.  Had I spent enough time being productive that day?  Had I given enough attention to my kids? Had I checked off enough items on my “to do” list?  Did I nurture my spirit and mind sufficiently so that it was ok for me to mindlessly fill my senses with voyeuristic aggressive impulses (watching men knock each other down).


What I didn’t do is watch the game because I wanted to.  I had to first go through my grid, my checklist of what was acceptable so I could JUSTIFY munching popcorn in front of the screen.


I’ll bet you have your own grid that determines if you spent your day well, if you fulfilled your devotional obligations, or if you worked hard enough at whatever.  How would you live if you didn’t have to answer to a judgmental grid of standards?  What if you no longer had to justify how you spend your time and energies?


Taking it to another level, how would you live if you didn’t have to justify your existence on an everyday basis?


Would you live a life of virtue?  Or would you yield to your darker passions and live a life of selfish debauchery?  Would you move from bondage to your grid of “oughts” to enslavement to something else?  What would motivate your life if you were completely acceptable as you are?


Stay tuned next time for Part 2.


  1. well that puts a lot out there. guess this is why being in the moment is so important.

Speak Your Mind