What are you to yourself?

 

 

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What make makes you happy? What makes you grateful to get out of bed in the morning? What makes you smile at the end of a long day? What do you look forward to? What makes you believe that your life is valuable?

Is there something? Or is it just something you know? Like, the sky is blue, plants grow, you are valuable.

When I was a teenager I was very involved in my church youth group. One summer I went to a youth conference in Missouri with hundreds of other kids from all over the country. I don’t remember many specifics from this trip, but I remember this.

I was sitting in the rose garden one day with two other teenagers I had met there. We were waxing poetic about life and God and one of them started talking about existentialism. I was a pretty smart kid. I read a lot, did well in school. But I had never heard of this before. As a school of thought, it was new to me. The idea that there is nothing, no purpose, no meaning, no God, no organizing structure to the universe. It was new and yet, it fit in so neatly with how I felt about myself. I had no purpose, no value beyond my significance to others. The existential ideas were keenly depressing and fitting to my depressed teenage brain.

Decades later I find myself asking similar questions. What is the purpose of my life? What is my value beyond my significance to others? I have been around the block enough times to know that I am loved, that I play a role in many lives. But what is the virtue of that in my every day life? Is all I am, what I am to other people?

It doesn’t feel like enough. And so, I am searching. Have been searching for longer than I care to consider.

What are you to yourself?

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