I’d like to ask you to slow down for just a few minutes. I know the holidays are crazy busy and you have gifts to buy, wrap or unwrap, baking to finish and all sorts of other very legitimate things on your To Do list.
I don’t want to suggest that all of that isn’t important because it is. It matters to you and your family. It’s about traditions and love and making memories. All worth your time and attention.
But I want you to consider giving one more gift this holiday season. I think you have the potential to give a gift that can put a flicker of light back into a person’s soul.
One of my favorite movies this time of year is It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ve seen it a million times and I still tear up as George watches his neighbors and friends pour into his living room, ready to share their last dollar with him because he mattered to them. (watch the final scene here)
I think part of the reason that scene makes me tear up a little is because I think for a lot of people — they wonder who, if anyone, would pour into their living room. I’ve come to believe that perhaps the loneliest feeling in the world is the feeling of being insignificant. As human beings, we need to matter. And I think this earth is packed with people who don’t really believe that they do.
And that sense of insignificance can lead to a debilitating despair. Think of it as a shroud of that wet cold that chills you to the bone. But in this case it goes beyond the bones to the very spirit of a person.
Here’s the dirty little secret. The people feeling that way aren’t homeless or jobless or anything less. They are people in your house. At your work. In your church. In your dorm or apartment complex. At the gym. You’re surrounded by them but you’d never know it.
They lead busy lives. They accomplish stuff. They show up. They step up.
And yet they feel like none of it really matters. Because they don’t really matter. Not really. Not unless you need something from them. They know you’ll rush in if you need some help, but will you be standing there if they’re the one in need?
In today’s hyper connected world, I think it’s even easier to feel disconnected. “How can I be so surrounded by people and no one can see how I’m hurting inside? How can they not know?” And that’s how the whirlpool begins…pulling a person down deeper until they can barely breathe because the weight on their chest is so heavy.
I suspect there are many people in your life who don’t really know that they matter to you. Or it’s just been a really long time since you told them. From the cheerful woman you look forward to seeing as she brews your low fat latte to the quiet co-worker who listens to your “my kid is so cute” stories to the neighbor who always lends you his tools to the boss who gave you extra time off because your son was being deployed to the friend who always seems to know when you need to vent to the teacher who pushed you to do better than just call it in to the Facebook friend who posts things that make you think or laugh or both.
I don’t know exactly who they are. It might be your dad. It might be the person on the bus who always offers you their paper. You might love them with all your heart or you might not even know their name. But somehow, in ways big or small — they do matter. They matter to you. And if they were in trouble or needed $20 — you’d pour into their living room.
Tell them. Look them in the eye and tell them. Tell them how they touch your heart. Tell them how they pick you up. Tell them how they brighten your day. Tell them how they make you laugh. Tell them that they matter to you.
Because what you don’t realize and what we often don’t realize until it’s too late is that today just might be the day that they decide they can’t do it anymore. They can’t continue not to matter.
Give someone the gift of significance this holiday season. You’ll probably never know how much it means to them.