This week one of my friends buried her dad. Our friendship group, lovingly called the beach house girls, decided to take that dear one out for tea so she could tell us all about the service, her memories of her dad, and how she felt about the whole life transition. Since most of us could not make the out-of-town service, that was our way of saying to her, “You matter to us.”
We communicate “You Matter” when we say yes to an invitation to a baby shower or wedding ceremony. Remembering your kindergarten best friend’s birthday after 50 years conveys a “You Matter” message. Attending your kids’ sporting events, musical recitals, or pre-prom picture dramas speaks of their priority in your busy schedule. The harried young mom juggling strollers, sippy cups and the Target door is reminded that she matters when you take three seconds to hold the door for her and let her cut in line.
In a perfect world, everyone would be treated as if we all matter equally. In a perfect micro-world of our family, there would be no “shrinking violet” child who tries to be invisible to avoid the punishment that the outspoken sibling is receiving. There would be no “golden child,” no “troublemaker” or “black sheep” of any family. There would just be children born into the world with unique personalities, emotional expression styles, and varied interests and skills, ones who are talkers, thinkers, musicians, artists, chemists, chefs — and all would know beyond doubt that they matter. No matter what!
In a healing or healthy family, each person feels seen, heard and valued as an irreplaceable part of this community called family. The parents would expect their spouse and their kids to flub up occasionally, and would offer grace and forgiveness and even a conversation about what other choices they might make if that situation happens again. Everyone would feel safe to admit they made a mistake instead of leaving that failure believing they ARE a mistake. They would always feel that they matter and that they are loved even when they are at their worst. Each member of the family would have a strong sense of belonging, each would feel of equal importance and value.
When we see each person we meet as an equal, as a person who we can learn from and can contribute to, then we see what God sees: people all created in his image just the way he planned. We are not all the same color, size or shape; we don’t all have the same talents or abilities. But we are all cherished by God and lovable. When we treat others as if they matter as much as we matter, then we all feel safe to explore the world and relationships with a confidence that we have value and have something to contribute in this life.
Look at your loved ones this week and just say, “Thank you for saying ‘yes’ to this time together. You mean the world to me.” When you do that, you communicate, “You matter to me, and I’m so glad that I matter to you.“