Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's Important? – The Evolution of a Question

It may sound like a simple question. You've probably heard it many times before.  But if you get it wrong, you end up with a mess. Take our kitchen cupboard for example:

Mom tried to organize one of the cupboards in our kitchen. I say tried, because I have a feeling it won't stay that way for long. Actually, I already messed it up. You see, she made it nice and neat, but some of the important stuff ended up in the back, where it's hard to reach. I went to get out the Nestlé’s Quik to make some chocolate milk and, I knocked over a bunch of stuff in the process. Oops!  

People are always trying to organize their lives. They realize they don't have enough room or time for everything, so they try to give each thing its own little corner. Problem is, things don't stay in their corners, and if you put the wrong thing in front, you're already set up for a disaster! Like my mom and her organization attempt, before you get your life in order, you need to ask yourself, “What’s important?”

Now, you may realize just how hard it can be to answer this question. So many people are confused and lost because they simply can't answer this one little question. But I know what their problem is!  Contrary to popular belief, it's not the answer that's confusing--it's the question. And that's because, although they have the right general idea, they're asking the wrong question!

So what's wrong with "What's important?"?
For starters, it's kinda vague. I mean, come on . . . everything in the world is of some importance, somehow, to someone or something. But that doesn't mean it necessarily has any bearing on my life! I mean, I really don't care to know the inner workings of a computer. That's not important to me, because as long as it works, I'm happy, and I really don't care what's going on inside. But to some people, say the folks who built my computer, it makes a world of difference!

Let's change our question a little bit. This time, let's ask, "What's important to me?"

Much better. We ruled out a lot of things like pufferfish and the square root of pi and the Chinese word for “kazoo.” But this question is not quite accurate either.

I mean, if you ask me at dinner time, I'll tell you my taco salad is extremely important (and I know some people would tell you that no matter what time it is!), and even the things I just mentioned as being pretty worthless to me are not completely worthless . . . after all, I just used them as examples in my writing, didn't I?

So let's change this question again, this time to "What's MOST important to me?"

Ah HAH! Now we have surely hit upon the right question. We can now take what is relevant to me, which eliminates a lot of things, and then put them in sequential order based on individual importance, and, voila! We now have a prioritized list of what my values, my actions, and my life as a whole should reflect! Well, we’ve figured that one out. See you next time, I gotta go do something important!

 . . . wait a minute . . .

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark! (In non-Shakespearean English: Houston, we have a problem!)

My “important list” STILL changes frequently. I mean, maybe taco salad isn’t ever at the top anymore, but there are still wayyy too many things that, at one time or another are “most important” to me. Just like a paper that changes its thesis statement halfway through is destined for a bad grade, people who don’t have a solid goal or vision for their lives can never hope to accomplish something great. No, decidedly, my “most important” isn’t going to cut it. Today it’s “write a best seller,” yesterday it was “have fun with my friends,” and tomorrow it might be “use my spring break to get all my homework done for the rest of the semester so I can graduate college with the highest GPA known to mankind!” (just kidding).

Seriously though, if I don’t have a “thesis statement” for my life—an unchanging standard against which I judge the importance of everything else on my list of priorities—what’s the point of asking the question at all? I might as well just live day to day based on what I feel is important at the time. And living on feelings alone rarely works out well. (Actually, more like—never.)

So here’s the final change in my question, “What’s important?”:
What does GOD say is most important for me?

Woah. Not only is this one good—it’s good!

This question provides what all the others have lacked: a constant perspective. God doesn’t change like I do, and society does, and even my own family’s values and beliefs do. James chapter 1 verse 17 says: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” We change as fast as shadows, ever morphing. It’s not the sun that makes the shadows change—it’s the position of the Earth, the rotation of the earth, the clouds, etc. Nothing stable, nothing eternally important can come from us. But God, like the sun, is shining true, even when we can’t see him. 

James chapter 1 also says that we should ask God for wisdom, and that we must believe, and not doubt. Doubting God is like saying that when the night comes, the sun isn’t shining anymore. Can you imagine the fear it would cause if we thought, every night, that the sun had ceased to shine, and would never rise again?  We’d all be major schizophrenics! (Yes, I spelled that all by myself. ^_^)  James says that a man like this is a “double-minded man, unstable in all he does,” like a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” That’s not the kind of life I want to live!

Skipping on a bit to James chapter 3, we can find that “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” That definitely sounds like what should be on my “important list.”

If we base our answers to “What’s important?” on God’s perspective, although the specific answers will be slightly different for each individual, I think the main direction of everyone’s answers will be not a “to-do” list, but a “to-become” list—ultimately, to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.” Now THAT’S what’s important.

1 comment:

  1. Living for him is Important! Good Job LaJoie!! :)