“Want to Believe in Yourself?” The New York Times asked recently. The key is to “matter.” In the article, “mattering” was given a psychological twist, defined as adding value to a community and being valued in return.
On the one hand, this is an example of missing the point of the problem. Telling someone to choose to matter is like telling someone to make meaning out of an ultimately meaningless universe with their ultimately meaningless lives.
At the same time, the author isn’t wrong to imply that mattering to other people is far better than the kind of internalized self-affirmation that typically passes for therapy. Our world leads us to be inwardly focused and untethered from anything outside of our own feelings and will.
We were made to find meaning outside of ourselves, which is why deep connections and relationships matter, and help us know that we matter. This is the way God designed us. We only truly know ourselves in reference to our most important relationships—first with Him, and then others.
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