“A Spiritual Inquiry:
What Really Matters in Life?”
By: Michele Babcock-Nice
“What really matters in life?” Of course, this is a question to which I already know the answer, but have recently contemplated again and in more depth and detail. It has also led to asking myself additional questions, all of to which I do not know the answers. And so, the initial question has led to some personal and deep soul-searching recently.
People are what really matters in life – one’s family, friends, colleagues, fellow church members – everyone, really. Everyone really matters. Yes, everyone really matters because I truly believe that we are all connected – no matter what background, race, religious affiliation, age, social or financial status, gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Sometimes, we may not like everyone, however everyone still matters.
People’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, philosophies, and actions matter. As I have gotten older, I have learned in greater depth that, sometimes, people do not take action on an issue if they fear or have concern about potentially making it worse. Sometimes, however, people do speak out or take action on particular issues, and those issues are, indeed, made worse.
It is in those situations that people learn to keep quiet, to protect themselves, to come to believe that silence may be better than whatever terrible consequences may be experienced from standing up for or speaking the truth. After all, most people do not want to hear the truth, especially if it evokes discomfort.
Sometimes I think that, even if people were truthful with each other and genuinely sought to help and support each other, no positive difference would be attained simply because of so many who choose to disbelieve, deny, ignore, or overlook particular situations. Sometimes the majority wins, even though the majority may be wrong or incorrect.
Thus, how can a person, establishment, company, or organization hope to improve by not being open to all possibilities, and then, being wise and insightful enough to do what is in the best interests of not only the individual, but also the group? Leaders of groups and organizations must recognize and be aware that their decisions may be far-reaching and widespread, and therefore, decisions must be carefully-made, wisely-implemented, and sensitively-enforced.
Therefore, the way in which people judge and misjudge, perceive and misperceive, help and harm each other…matters. I see it happening more and more in our society that people seem to be becoming more immune to violence, more apathetic toward wrongdoing, increasingly led on the wrong path.
So, how can we help each other? How can we support each other? How can we make positive change? How can we convince those who are blinded by what is accepted in society that may not necessarily be right or good to change their perceptions? Those who are guided by strong morals and ethics must continually take the lead in these matters, not being led by greed, selfishness, or the desire for status or influence, but out of the desire to assist humanity in living better, as Jesus taught.
Depending on the situation, positive change and changes in people’s perceptions, attitudes, and philosophies may take days, months, years, decades. A friend of mine recently stated to me that there is little that one person can do. I respect that person very much, however, it was definitely a disappointment that he stated this to me.
In my way of thinking, Jesus was one person; Nelson Mandela is one person; Gandhi was one person; Blessed (Mother) Teresa was one person; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one person. Change, whether good or bad, can begin with one person. So, what better reason than to be one person who stands for positive change?
People who stand up for and speak out for what is good and right matter. People who do whatever they can to help each other, no matter what the consequences or what the outcome, matter. We must also recognize that those who may not be vocal or active about particular issues matter because they may know that to do so may make matters worse.
Progress as we see it is not the same as the manner in which God see’s it. To God, our progress is probably more like regress. There is so much in our lives about which we are busy, constantly on the go, always having to do something, regularly networking or connecting with each other – or maybe not. Maybe we are not doing enough for ourselves or each other; that may be the opposite end of the spectrum, too.
So, what really matters in life to you? Work is important, having enough money is important, having meaningful things in one’s life is important. How important are people to you? What would you do to help or support another? If you saw or knew of someone in need, what would you do? Would you turn your back and walk away, or would you assist them in ways to help themselves? Would you do what Jesus would do?
We must always remember that, in our humanity, we are not perfect. However, we can always strive to be better people, to be more kind, more loving, more caring, less selfish, less hurtful, less diminishing, more understanding, more insightful, more wise. We must not accept less, but expect more and better – of ourselves and others.
We must also always try our best to do our best and to be the best possible individuals whom we can be, however, we must also remember to live in the manner that Jesus wants us to. It is not enough to be a follower of Christ; we must truly live Jesus’ principles. We can always try our best to be better people than we are. We can always do more to help ourselves and others.
Therefore, we can always seek to behave in a more Christlike manner. As followers of Christ, we must truly seek to become more like him, to seek to know and understand His will for us, and to be open to and accepting of how He forms and models us in positive ways. How will you do that today and everyday?