I Matter to Who Matters. I still struggle at work with feeling invisible.
In my prior blog, I mentioned that I was also thinking about people that may argue that they have no one. No family or friends that matter to them OR no family or friends where they feel like they matter to that person. How can any of these philosophies that I’ve mentioned applied to them?
Well, that is where the faith-based comment I have in my tagline comes into play. If you believe in a Higher Power that cares about your well being and loves you (to me that is Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ), you have at least 2 beings (or whatever applies to your belief) that you should know loves you and has a vested interest in your development and progress through life.
There have been a few bleak times in my life where I felt utterly and completely alone. Even with my wonderful children around and knowing my extended family loved me, I just didn’t feel like I really mattered to anyone (I’m sure I was in the throws of a huge pity party.)
The pressures were just too much and I needed someone to take over. No family lived in the state I was in. My children were just that. KIDS. I never expected them to deal with adult issues. I had no significant other. My time was spent at work or with my children, so I had no close friends. I had no money to pay for counseling. I needed something.
So, acting in faith, I turned to God. In my “free time”, I read scriptures, prayed, kept going to church every Sunday even though I really just wanted to sleep in, read books on how to increase my faith and how to tap into the gifts and blessings of the Atonement (just to name a few). And what was the result? Miracles? Not really – although I saw blessings throughout my week(s) regularly. The biggest benefit? I just KNEW that Father and Jesus Christ were watching out for me.
I felt peace on days that I thought I should be checking myself into a nuthouse. I felt joy with the little things in life. Small, medium and large unexpected blessings would come my way. My relationships with my children strengthened. I was able to deal with all the nonsense at work and leave it at work instead of bringing it home. I was able to sleep at night. The panic went away. I was able to make it hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month to month. And with all of these positive feelings and blessings coming my way – I knew there was a God in Heaven and I knew I mattered to Him. It was no coincidence.
So, even if you feel like you have no one close to you – family, friends…anyone – that you matter to – if you believe in a Higher Power that watches over you and loves you – you can at a bare minimum, know that you matter to them. Hang onto that. Forever.
I really don’t know how some people make it through the trials of life without an anchor in a greater belief that there is a reason for our experiences and that we are not alone. I know I would have given up. A looonnnngggg time ago.
Below is a quote from a teaching manual from the church I belong to. To me, it is a powerful statement about the power of Christ’s Atonement that I reflect on a lot.
“All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ.”
If you can believe this, have hope in this, have faith that this is true, it will get you through the darkest and loneliest times in life.
I had a great question posed to me from a comment on one of my prior blogs.
It stated: “What came to my mind reading this was: could “Who Mattered” change, depending on circumstance or timing? Take your sister for example: many would argue that family always should matter- myself included. They are a source that one can invest in because no matter what happens, a sister will always be a sister. A brother will always be a brother. A parent, a parent. However, there are families that dissolve one way or another- like in divorces, for example- where it is actually healthier for a parent to be separated from a child (glad I don’t have to be the one who decides that!) So in this situation, did we see an unhealthy parent once mattering, and then not? Or do they always matter? Maybe I’m being too philosophical about this, but I like the “mental candy” that this question is to me: what does it mean that someone “matters” to you?
I definitely have some thoughts on this! Actually as I thought about creating this blog, I tried to think of some arguments someone could pose to challenge my phrase “I matter to who matters.”
To my blog follower referenced above, YES!, who matters to you CAN change depending on circumstance or timing. [I hope I don’t lose any readers as I try to process through what has gone through my mind.]
My personal definition of who “matters” to me is this – it is a person that can have one or many of these following actions or feelings towards me: invested in my happiness, cares about my well being, loves me unconditionally (meaning they would never withhold love from me as a “punishment” because I’ve upset them OR use love as a “reward” because I’ve finally pleased them), lets me be me and is okay with that, willing to help me, willing to listen to me, tries not to judge me even if they disagree, respects me, is considerate of my feelings, morals and values, supportive of my efforts, a cheerleader for my success and doesn’t get jealous because I may be “better” at something than them, doesn’t try to compete with me, cries with me, and prays for me (I can’t think of any more right now, but I’m sure there is more!!!)
So, at any time a person may come and go with feeling this way towards another, right? Yep! It’s human nature!
The comment mentioned my sister. For those readers that have no idea what that cryptic comment may mean, my sister and I have a loving and comfortably distant relationship with each other. Some years we are closer and more vested in each other and some years we make little to no effort at the relationship (no anger involved – just more invested in other life moments like children, grandchildren, spouses, work, etc…) Have I had moments where she felt very distant from me, like I didn’t even have a sister? Embarrassing to say, sure. During some of the year stretches, I just didn’t feel close to her. Once in a blue moon, she would really hurt my feelings and I’d back away. I’m sure I’d really hurt her feelings and she would back away. Moments like these are human nature. IT’S NORMAL.
BUT – if you ask me if she matters to me. I’d answer with a resounding yes, yes, yes and yes. She’s my sister. My ONLY sister. I love her even those I’m not close to her at times. I care about her. I love her unconditionally. I pray for her, my brother-in-law, my sweet niece and nephews. If she ever asked for help from me, I’d give her the shirt off my back in a heartbeat.
For me – family will ALWAYS matter. They are my family and I will always value my relationships with them, close or distant. That may not be the same for others. Truthfully, I believe there will always be moments where someone matters more than other moments, but the importance of that relationship is always there.
Now – for me – friends are a different story. I have had some friendships where a person mattered to me and now they don’t. I’ve also had some friendships where they mattered, they didn’t matter and now they do again. People change over time and so do the relationships they are involved in. Sometimes the change isn’t always good and it can affect the relationship. The friends that matter to me now fit all or part of the definition I mentioned earlier in the blog. I am invested in their happiness and I believe they are invested in mine.
I was also thinking about people that may argue that they have no one. No family or friends that matter to them OR no family or friends where they feel like they matter to that person. How can any of these philosophies that I’ve mentioned applied to them?
Read my next blog 😀
I love this quote from Dr. Seuss! It aligns perfectly with “I matter to who matters”. You have value. You have worth. Your voice counts. Your opinion counts. Your life matters. It matters to those who care about you…who love you… It matters to God. Especially Him. And His Son.
In the last two blogs, I talked about a couple of Christmas memorable moments that I had. The reason these times were memorable was that I knew I mattered to someone I cared about and that I knew cared about me.
There is nothing that brings me more joy than to have a conviction that someone I love or care for deeply returns those sentiments. There is something grounding about it. Those people and/or your relationship with Deity are your anchors in life. Something you can hold on to when the waters get rough.
Another Christmas memory spang to mind this morning that I wanted to share. It’s not about another Christmas memory I had where I felt or knew I mattered. This memory is about Christmases past where I tried to help someone feel that they mattered.
Ever since I was a kiddo, I had this overwhelming desire to give “things” to people to help them feel my love for them. I had some pretty good moments for a 7-9-year-old: saving up money to buy my Mom a single flower at the florist, sharing beloved Bazooka bubble gum or penny candy from Harvey’s that I bought with friends or family, trying to get the most “bang for the buck” when spending a certain birthday budget on friends or family so they would have a lot of gifts to open instead of one, buying one of my parents a special Christmas gift that I knew they would really like ( Aren’t these new plastic dinner plates so cool Mom????) and so on.
I had some bombs too. Of course, I had no money to buy anybody anything at Christmas. Dad was the funder of any gifts that came from me. Thanks, Dad! So, what bright idea did I have? I decided one year to root through my things and give them as gifts to my family. Unfortunately, my sister received most of them as they were little girl things. I still remember the look on her face when she opened a pretty crappy necklace I had given her and she knew it was a re-gift. Needless to say, that was the one AND the ONLY year I pulled off that stunt.
There was another time where my “biggest bang for the buck” failed miserably when I was entrusted with a $20 budget from a group of friends to buy my best friend, Sharon, some birthday gifts. They envisioned a magnificent present and (if I remember right) it was a bunch of $1 – $2 gifts. I believe I lost some friends over that one…..
Anyhoo – I have always (even do so now) daydreamed about how I would or could help people to know they mattered if I had the means or knew exactly what they needed.
As a teen, I wanted to be that person that gave Jerry Lewis $1,000,000 for his telethon . As I was “sponsored” for Christmas as a single Mom, I wanted to one day return that favor and sponsor a family for Christmas (‘s, ‘s and MORE ‘s!!!!). I want to be able to contribute significant cash to the St. Jude Hospital fund to help sick children. I want to buy a car for each of my family members that drive pieces of junk so they can drive safely. You get the picture…..these ideas I’ve had over the years are just the tip of the iceberg from all the countless number of thoughts I’ve had.
So where am I going with this? We all need to realize that a “who is a who no matter how small”. Try to think of someone in your life that matters to you. Do they know that? If they know that, have you shown them or done something for them recently? Have you helped them to feel valued? Appreciated? Do they know you are thinking about them?
Christmas is a great time of the year to think of that one special gift that may touch the heart of someone you care about so that they too have a Christmas memory that they mattered to somebody.
I remember a few Christmas moments where I believe a gift I gave helped the receiver to know that they were special to me. One of my sons struggled with a math class that was necessary to pass in order to graduate from high school. It was such a challenge for him that we really worried that he’d graduate. I swore to him that I would do all I could to help him pass that class and we registered him in a college math class where the high school he was at recognized as credit for graduation. I taught him the math concepts and he took the tests at the high school proctored by the high school guidance counselor. He passed !!!! HE GRADUATED!!!! That year for Christmas, I made a shadow box of his favorite high school memories and gave it to him. He cried when he opened it. I cried. Six other siblings cried. That inexpensive little shadow box had the biggest impact on all of us.
Another year one of my daughters, who is a single Mom of 2 and was very broke that year, had a wish list item for her birthday (in December) that was expensive. She didn’t have the money for it and neither did I. But, I scrimped and saved and watched for Black Friday bargains and I was able to purchase the birthday gift. When she opened it, not only was she elated that she got her (seemingly unaffordable) wish-list gift, but she was touched because she knew the sacrifice I had made to be able to buy them for her.
One more example? OK! One of my younger daughters was in love with this Sock Monkey that I bought for my (then fiance) husband. Every time we went to his house, she would hold it and threaten to steal it. One year, I asked him if I could replace his sock monkey and give her THAT sock monkey and he agreed. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she opened that gift. Another precious memory for me and the hope that she felt loved and cared for due to that selfless act.
I have a challenge for anyone that reads this blog. Whenever you read this, whether it’s December 2018 or months down the road, whoever has come into your mind as you’ve read this…do something or say something to them to let them know they matter to you. We all love to know that we matter to someone in life – let someone else have that gift. They matter. You matter. I matter – no matter how “small” we are.
So segue from magical Christmases in the 1960s to 1970s to now the time spans from about 2000 – 2010. Life wasn’t very much fun for quite a while – about 10ish years. I was a single mother of 7 (#awesome) children. From about 2003 – 2007ish?? on any given month I worried about paying the mortgage. My home had been in and out of foreclosure. My ex-husband was not able to pay child support due to some medical issues he was dealing with. I was initially working at a county government job that morphed into another job that paid more, but not much. It was a door, though, for improvement to my then salary, and I prayed that the day would come that I could earn enough every month to pay the bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul.
My Mom and Dad tried to help. About once a year, sometimes twice, a check would come in the mail that would seem like the biggest blessing of that year. It would help with critical living expenses and extend the budget by a hundred or so dollars. Thanks, Dad!
Christmases were a nightmare. Seven children – all pretty much deprived of everything during the year except the necessities, and me, wanting, wishing, hoping that I can pull off that “Santa” gift that would make Christmas worth something for them.
During the year they heard: no vacations, no movies at the theater, no cell phone, no music lessons (unless you take band in school and grab the free instrument), no sports (fees cost too much), no name brand clothes or toys and be grateful for “pretty intact” hand-me-downs from other siblings, no TV (couldn’t afford cable and no “air” TV where we lived), and no name brand food (thank you church welfare and Food Stamps for feeding my children). I didn’t even have money to buy my medication and remember getting yelled at by my primary care doctor because I couldn’t afford to purchase it (see below) and the list of what we went without goes on. The dread of wondering if there would be any extra money or any extra leeway on the credit card (how much can I buy before I max it out….again).
I always thanked the Lord daily for the blessings we received, because I KNEW it could be worse and it wasn’t. I had a monthly paycheck (although insufficient) that we could survive off of it, we weren’t homeless…yet, opportunities for growth at work (tick, tock, tick, tock – when will someone leave so I can apply for their job???), health and dental insurance (I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during this time), a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes for the kids, a car (sort of – #clowncar #howmanydidwegothroughkids????), and our health (except of course dealing with diabetes).
And yet, when I think back to all of the Christmases the kids and I spent together, I believe the kids had great Christmases. Someone or some organization would get a hold of our names (again – thank you Food Stamps for the Free and Reduced Lunch program which put our names out there at Christmas time) and a few of the wish list items would get ticked off the list. An unbelievable sale would happen on a Santa gift so I could afford it and more items ticked off the list. A family member would give a generous, unexpected gift of cash and more items ticked off the list. A friend would hear of our need and their family would sponsor us for Christmas and more items ticked off the list.
Every Christmas these were the experiences that I went through. Every Thanksgiving looking at the budget and realizing there was NO way the kids were getting what they wanted or needed and every Christmas Eve thanking the Lord that once again, His tender mercies pulled us through to have a great holiday.
I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not giving credit where credit is due. There are so many people, named and unnamed, who will never know how in need I was and will never know how they made Christmas special due to their sacrifices.
But – I don’t believe it was by coincidence that year after year when things looked the bleakest, everything would always turn out alright. I truly believe it was Heavenly Father looking out for us. I considered all the help we got as help HE sent our way.
Those feelings of being forgotten, or passed over, or not good enough, or to poor to mingle with others in their realms was forgotten. In its place was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to know that I MATTERED to my Heavenly Father. ME. MY CHILDREN. Out of all of mankind on the face of the earth….I mattered too! I mattered enough to Him that He made sure we were always taken care of.
I knew He loved me. I knew He was aware of me and our situation. I knew that one day it’d all work out and we’d get through the rough years because I knew I mattered to God. I knew that if I had nothing else, I had my children and my relationship with a loving Heavenly Father and That. Was. Enough.
I was listening to a talk show on the radio today as I drove into work. The subject was “Christmas Gifts” and two of the speakers were reminiscing about Christmas’ past where they received a memorable gift. I immediately started to think about my past Christmas experiences. Did I ever have that moment where I received a memorable gift and still remember it after “X” number of years? Yep. I sure do. And those things that have been memorable were not “gifts” per se but “moments”.
The first thought that came to my mind were the memories of Christmas at my Grandma’s home. It feels like I remember most every year we spent Christmas there. She had so many traditions, that even though one year may not have stood out from another because of the “sameness”, it was those expected traditions that made Christmas with her and my Grandpa so special. My Aunt lived with them and my Great Aunt and Uncle were next door neighbors. Most of the extended family lived in the same area. Everyone pitched in and had a huge part in these wonderful memories.
I remember that Grandma’s Christmas cards were hung in the small kitchen from colorful ribbon taped to the very top of the wall close to the ceiling. She and my Grandpa had so many family and friends that the columns of Christmas cards filled her kitchen from ceiling to floor. A huge variety of Christmas cookies were always available. She let me help her wrap Christmas presents and taught me how to make pretty home-made bows from fabric ribbon (she used to be a gift wrapper at the Piggly Wiggly then L. S. Ayres – WOOT!). Ornaments on the tree were very familiar and every year I would look to try to spy my favorite ones. My favorites were always the ones made by her good friend, Fannie Fowler.
She’d put Christmas lights around the huge mirror in the living room It was so beautiful when the house lights went out at night because the light from the strand was multiplied by being on the edge of a mirror. My siblings and I had our own stockings at her home and they were hung on the front door, ready for us on Christmas with treats and small gifts inside. There was a candy dish on a small dark table that was magical because it had a seemingly never-ending supply of candy. #howdidsheDOthat?!?!?!
Grandma and the rest of the family, no matter how busy they might have been, gave the gift of their time. We always had our dinner meal together whether 10 or 30 were at the tables. Every night we could count on large groups of us playing cards. The laughing and teasing and friendly competition strengthened family ties. We even renamed one of the card games to “Get Bud”, who was my Great Uncle. He won all the time and the object of the game was to beat him vs beating everyone. Even when the extended family left to go to their homes, Grandma, (Great Aunt) Bertie and I would stay up past midnight playing cards or Yahtzee.
Lastly, I remember that without fail, never missed, we all attended her church’s Candlelight Christmas Eve service. My Grandpa, Aunt and Great Aunt were in the choir. My Dad was a consistent guest singer (“Is Bob singing this year?!?!?” YEP. SURE IS!) and would sing “O Holy Night” as a solo. Grandma had a red coat with a fur collar. It had a familiar smell and I tried to sneak to sit by her during the service. I could count on Wrigley’s Spearmint gum being in her purse and was enamored by her bright red wallet. No one I knew as a child in the 60’s and early 70’s had a bright red wallet like Grandma.
Do I remember a “special” present that she or any of the other beloved family members gave to me? Maybe one or two??? (Crissy doll and tape recorder- oh yeah!)
Ok – so you ask what made this a special memory? Because I knew that I MATTERED TO THEM. I was surrounded by love and acceptance. I was filled with joy that they wanted to be with me; that they would sacrifice their time for me; that they kept the special memories going for me; that I could count on the “sameness”. I knew that every Christmas would be the same – would feel the same. I knew that I would have the same interactions with them and feel the same love from them.
My Christmas memories are wonderful due to feeling like I mattered to people who I cherished and who mattered to me. I matter to who matters. Grandma, Grandpa, Artie, Bertie, Uncle Bud, Aunt Pat, Bill and Sylvia Gardner, Charlie and Dora Reynolds, Reese and Mary, to just name a few, thank you for helping me to know that without a doubt that I mattered to you.