We have become experts at avoidance. Our ability to avoid is so thorough and so effective, we can even deceive ourselves. Most of us are actually better at deceiving ourselves than we are at deceiving others.
In an effort to avoid, we are confused and angry. We are hurt and chronically dissatisfied. We overcompensate with narcissism and a grandiose sense of self-importance. Which is just an attempt to avoid the deep insecurity we feel.
The truth is elusive. If we’re not careful, we don’t really care about truth. We just care about preserving our self-esteem, assuming that whatever makes us feel better is the truth.
Whether spoken or unspoken, internalized, conscious or subconscious, there is one question that haunts and drives human beings. Does this really matter?
To make it personal: what really matters to me?
We tend to toggle between two extreme perspectives. Either everything matters or nothing does. Our emotions are out of control because we treat every statement and action as if the world hung in its balance. We don’t know how to disagree, let alone be offended. We did a thing with our community group a few weeks ago where we said all the great things we see in one another. And people were terrified. We don’t even know how to receive compliments. Such is the pandemic of mask-wearing in our world.
All of this is symptomatic of a greater problem. We can’t discern what matters. And if we don’t know what really matters to us, how are we supposed to respond to our emotions? How are we supposed to know what they are telling us, why they were triggered in the first place?Even more problematic, how are we supposed to know we are on the “right” path? How are we supposed to discern which battles to fight and which to let go? Which hill do we die on? Which offenses do we take on and which do we shrug off?
If we don’t know our values, we don’t know what matters to us. And if we don’t know what matters, we live in a constant state of fear. Afraid that everything is eternal. Everything is personal. We live and die on the single opinion of another.
Our values are a lighthouse in our little existence. They show us the way to shore. They help give us direction, name our vision, provide the framework for a mission we can pursue.
Otherwise we idolize circumstances and the approval of others. We compete and compartmentalize, just grasping for meaning. We are confused and frustrated, self-deceiving and very afraid.
Knowing what we value does not eliminate life’s problems, but it does provide some stability. Some reality. It gives us permission to pursue the few things that really give us life rather than obsess over every thing that comes across our path. The Bible talks about being blown and tossed by the wind. We are people trapped in the tumble-cycle of the dryer. Can’t get our footing, confused and disoriented. Increasingly frustrated. The stable ground we are looking for is an exercise in naming our values. Only then can we begin to discern what truly matters to us.