In case you ever think anything you do matters, do yourself a favor and just take a self-quiz on how many United States Presidents you can name.
(Also, post how many you can name in the comments below because I’m genuinely curious about an average.)
Ok, ok, now try to name all the countries of the world. How many did you come up with? Can you name any of their heads of state?
These people run COUNTRIES. And you don’t even know their names.
When I was in college, I liked the idea of significance. Someone once asked me what my goal was in getting an English degree and I said, “I want to write something so great, future English majors are required to take a class in me to graduate.”
I’ve never been shy about having big goals (although as my mediocre blog suggests, I no longer think I’m going to write something so great as all that. Yet.)
We all start off pretty insignificant. Then something happens as you grow up. People actually start trusting you to do things. Like pay a mortgage or run an event or control a company budget or even keep a kid alive for the next 18 years.
That responsibility feels heavy. If you do it long enough, at some point, you will totally fall on your butt and make very large dents in your progress, and it may even be public. It’s really, really easy to focus on those failures and talk yourself out of trying to achieve wonderful things because you’d be embarrassed to fall again.
It’s easy to feel that your failure was just too catastrophic or you’ve failed too many times for any hope of future success.
But here’s the secret -- NO ONE CARES. This is not a harsh “no one cares.” This is a freeing “please-stop-worrying-what-everyone-thinks-because-no-one-cares” kinda thing.
Even things that seem huge to us are ultimately insignificant. You got your house foreclosed on you? Guess what. Just in July 2018, 550,000 homes in America got foreclosed. And that’s down from 14% in May!
You sitting at home embarrassed that you didn’t do as well as you thought you would in college, and now your “semester off” became a few years off, and you have no degree? 45% of people who begin college don’t make it to a bachelor degree within 6 years.
And finally, you’re all worried about that one piece of your hair that just wouldn’t curl correctly, and you walk in to church thinking everyone is going to see it, but guess what. Everyone else is worrying about THEIR hair that wouldn’t curl correctly! Everyone is so busy worrying about themselves that they aren’t even noticing you.
I’m just trying to say -- you’re not alone in your failure. You’re actually pretty insignificant. And in the middle of failure, it’s easy to imagine you will never recover, but people have recovered from much, much worse.
Once I realized that I’m totally insignificant, it made me worry a lot less what other people thought of me, or what I did or didn’t do (or how much of my hair would curl correctly.)
Even if I become President of the United States, an office there’s only ever been 45 persons in history to hold, most people won’t even know my name in a hundred years. That makes my teensy existence look really small.
Most importantly, realizing I am insignificant freed up a lot of my time to do things like have fun or pay attention to people who I know I definitely AM significant to -- my family and close friends.
The great news for those of us who follow Jesus is: even though you are insignificant, our significant God has hand-picked you for a part to play in the telling of His story. The Bible is full of people who went through very deep, even prolonged periods of failure in their lives, and God still chose them. Some of them even failed at ministry, and God still chose them! Most of them were nobodies, and God chose them! That gives me hope that no matter how much I completely blow it, no matter who knows or doesn’t know my name, he’s still got me.