I was at work when my cell phone rang. It was my mother—I could tell quickly something was wrong. I braced myself. A high school classmate and basketball teammate of mine gave up on life by hanging himself the night before. Memories flooded into my head and tears trickled down my cheeks … 10th grade English class, seeing him in the halls between classes, varsity practice drills. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
After the waves of confusion, shock, tears and the unending questions of “Why?” and “What could I have done?” came the question: Am I reminding people often enough that they are significant, that they matter and are loved by God and others?
There is an incredible necessity and responsibility to tell others they are special, they are important, they have worth. Oftentimes, we go through the mundane realities of life and are unable to see behind the closed doors of human emotions. When we assume everyone has it all together, we lose sight of the precious lives all around us. We quickly forget that all of us need affirmation; that we need to be needed; that we need to be reminded that we matter to somebody; that we are somebody.
It’s meaningful to communicate to people that they matter to God and to others. We take people for granted. But times like these make us realize we can’t bring back those who have passed, but we can encourage those around us with the truth that we all matter.
A younger student in high school had come to me several years ago and openly expressed his feelings of deep depression, uselessness and worthlessness. I knew nothing else to do other than to invite him over and watch the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. As the movie ended and the credits rolled I turned to him and said, “John, just like George Bailey’s life, this world would be so different without you. You are unique and irreplaceable.” Although it sounded cheesy, I am so glad I said it.
Often I miss opportunities to speak this truth into people’s lives, in little or big ways. I miss opportunities to show and tell people they matter through a short email, a voicemail message, a note, an unexpected visit just stopping by to say hello, or telling someone face-to-face. How much sweeter would life be if we reminded each other often just how special, important and irreplaceable we are?
The movie, A Beautiful Mind, showed us how humans need to feel important and significant. If people cannot find affirmation and significance in the reality of life, they will begin to believe in their significance through fantasy, just as John Nash (Russell Crowe) did. But many times they give up on life—to them, life is no longer worthy to be lived.
Leadership guru John Maxwell once said people are the most important things on the earth. How did he know that? Because Jesus didn’t die for meetings, for money, for material possessions—He died for people. And if the Son of God died for one thing and one thing only—you—He must have thought that was pretty important.
If people are the most important thing on the face of the earth what I am doing to show others of their importance?
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