The Search for Significance – Part I

Incidentally,

When  a human child is first born, we’re instantly convinced of its incontestable worth even though it’s done absolutely nothing for anybody or for the world or for God;
yet it seems that as we grow older, we begin to cultivate that entangling mentality of determining our own worth by what we can accomplish in life or how well we can do it.
I think it’s one of the most paradoxical trademarks of human nature; but ironically, despite being admittedly productive to an extent, this type of pursuit for significance becomes exhausting and, ultimately, unfulfilling.

At what point do you actually do enough to become enough?
And enough in whose opinion, anyway? Your own? The opinion of other people? What you think is the opinion of other people about you?

Way too often I’ve found myself sustaining the moments where I felt compelled to justify my existence on the earth by what I could do for it whilst I’m here. It seems to me personally that a lot of us subconsciously feel that we need to validate our life — or at the very least our sense of self-worth — by our effectiveness in the world
(or our approval by the world; but that’s another post.)

We all have the need to feel needed, right? That’s a good and normal thing. The problem rolls around when our security is stacked up on our abilities, talents, capacities, or effectiveness, because then suddenly when we can’t find a place for those things, or when we’re not needed, the despondency of uselessness slips in through the gap, and we feel purposeless and consequently worthless.
Some of the same colours paint the mindset for the fear of failure. It would stand to reason that if who you are depends on what you do, then making a mistake or failing at any endeavour would define you as an essential failure, which leaves no room for anything less than an impossibly high standard of perfection.

Image result for batman quotes it's not who you are underneath

Somewhat dismal, isn’t it?
Perhaps Batman was talking more about our actions displaying what’s inside of us, which is necessarily inevitable; but the question here lies in whether our actions give us value.

I have a colossal regard for making the most of the time we have —  chuck the excuses, pull a Nike, and just do it. Life is too short and too precious to try to have it all figured out before getting started on anything worth achieving, big or small.

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
-Leonardo da Vinci

But I think the crucial point hinges on our motivation and why we do things.

The last two months dragged me through the mud in a process of realising that I’d been scrambling to find and fulfill my purpose in an effort to earn my right to approval.

Maybe that’s backwards, though.

Perhaps instead we can learn something from the love for infants and refashion our effort into a pursuit for a significance that comes from approval and value for who we are before we’ve done anything to earn it. Why would the inherent value given to us at birth (or at conception — or even before then) effervesce simply because we became older, bigger, and smarter? We inherit a responsibility to act, of course, when we mature, because to whom much is given, much is required; but what kind of metamorphosis would our lives undergo if we were able to accept the truth that the value placed on our lives has less to do with what we’ve done, and more to do with what was done for us?

Yes. I am referring to an unconditional love from God and the sacrifice of Jesus.

We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time for being. As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have — for their usefulness.”
-Thomas Merton

I believe everybody has a purpose. I think it’s a given that we’ll be given a calling; but maybe sometimes we try to harvest something from our calling that it wasn’t meant to provide for us in the first place. Somewhere along the line we started believing that purpose gives meaning. I think part of the key to deciphering the enigma, however, is in unlocking the realisation that the call on your life to impact the world is a gift to display your already-inherent value, not a requirement to prove it. Ergo, failure becomes more bearable because it doesn’t affect who we are.

We ought to work from a place of love, acceptance, and significance, not for it.

I think it’s a life-long process, like most crucial elements of being human; but starting down that path can entirely revolutionise the way we live.

 

P.S.

I’d actually love to hear your thoughts on these things. Speculations, skepticism, criticism, appraisal, comments, random irrelevant cogitations. All the toppings. Whether you agree or disagree, I’m open to hear any opinions. All feedback is welcome. We can build on each other’s perspective, and it will inevitably help me write better, juicier content.

Peace.

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4 thoughts on “The Search for Significance – Part I

  1. Beautifully rendered.
    My personal rumination following your words…
    Perhaps it is fair to say that the parallel between a newborn’s inherent worth and our thirst for purpose is quite simply the affirmation of God’s word? Is there not a general purposefulness of human life, as well as an individual purpose in life?
    Generally, He chose to create us so that we could fellowship with Him. He knew sin would enter the world. He knew the great sacrifice necessary to restore us to Himself (as we began as newborns), yet He concluded we were “worth” it. Knowing and enjoying God is a universal purpose in life.
    Individually, we are created with a different purpose. Not one of us is the same. Perhaps again it may be fair to say that as well as our bodies are made of different parts and pieces to make us complete and functional, our unique purpose is intended to complete His body?
    Therefore, my questions are these….
    If God delicately “knit us together in our mother’s womb”(Psalm 139:13),
    One by one….would it be reasonable to say that the best tool to find our “purpose” is through delicate prayer? Asking God to reveal His purpose for our lives, and listening? Even if our purpose is revealed in mere footsteps…one by one? No slave to fear, with reverent peace and trust that He chose us?

    • For my own part, I realised that my core, essential purpose or meaning in life is basically to know God; and that yes, from that, I get my purpose or call for my part in the world, as it were. I suppose what I mean is that, as I said, I know that He gives each of us a purpose and a calling, but even if He didn’t give me one, I’d theoretically be okay (at least in the sense of not being worthless,) because my initial worth comes from knowing Him, first.
      I look at those two different things — being made to know God and being made to fulfill or live out a calling, and I obviously wouldn’t want one without the other; but I’d never have to really worry about Him giving me one without the other. If you think — He created Adam because he wanted a friend, somebody to simply BE with; but He also gave Adam a task of taking care of the world. I think it’s a good template for each person’s life. We’re created to know Him and BE with Him, essentially; and then He also created us to accomplish things in the world.

  2. It’s interesting to read what you’re writing because I have arrived at the same conclusions but the road that took me there was learning to love myself. I think it’s so fun that God leads us all to wholeness but through different avenues that match our personality and give us tools for our calling. 🙂 Keep writing!

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