Posted by: ritagone | August 31, 2011

The Importance of “Important”

One of my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, has written five bullet points that he felt we would all do well to remember as we made our journey through life :

  • Life is hard.
  • You are not that important.
  • Your life is not about you.
  • You are not in control.
  • You are going to die.

I like these, for the most part, as they speak honestly and truthfully about life and important aspects about living.  They give us a much needed perspective that we might not be able to grasp from what the world around us wants to teach us.

But I like even better a more simple “mantra” that I read and then watched in “The Help,” the book and now the movie that everyone seems to be seeing and talking about as of this writing.  In it, the maid Aibileen cares for an unloved toddler named Mae Mobley (typical Southern name of the ‘60’s, right?) whose mother just doesn’t seem to have time for her, perhaps because the child isn’t the typical Southern beauty.  To counteract that indifference, whenever she can, Aibileen sits her on her lap and says to the child something we would all do well to heed: “You is smart.  You is kind. You is important.”

I find it interesting that there is a stark contrast between one point Rohr makes and one that the author (Kathryn Sackett) makes: he says “You are not that important,” while she maintains, through the black maid, “You is important.”

How can this be?  Who is right?

I think this is one of those times in life where we need to see that opposites can and do hold equal amounts of truth.  Because, in reality, in the face of a rather overwhelmingly large universe and over six billion people on our planet, of course you and I individually are not that important.  Even the most important person on the planet right now (and who would that be?  — even that discussion is not certain.) will eventually die and, although written up in history books and remembered to a certain extent, still, life does indeed go on.  Alexander the Great wasn’t, well, so great, after all, because many came after him who were even greater.  For example, just yesterday I read that according to 900 British Engineering undergrads, Steve Jobs ranked third as an Engineering Hero, outranked only by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (inventor of the first major British railway – and how many of us remember that important man’s name?), and James Dyson, who makes the world’s best vacuum cleaners and hand dryers.  He beat out Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Thomas Edison, among others.  Albert Einstein is now an also-ran!  Imagine that!

So importance, as you can see, is fleeting.  One century you’re on top of the heap.  The next century, iPad in hand, you’re the best there is, the most important inventor there is.  But what will the 22nd century hold?  Who knows?  Where will Mr. Jobs himself rank then?

So in this sense Rohr is right: You are not that important.  Neither is Steve Jobs.

But then there’s Aibileen whispering to Mae Mobley: “You is important,” trying to instill in that child’s tender heart and soul the fact that, in spite of her mother’s ignoring her, she is loved and wanted and cared for.  She is important.

And of course that’s what God says to us: we are important, each and every one of us.  So important that God sent His Son to die on a cross for us, individually and personally.

And that’s the most important thing we need to know about our importance, after all.  Not what we invent or create or do or become.  Not who we marry or how much money we make.  Not where we live or what degrees we attain.  The most important thing about us is that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for us, as if we were the only person on the planet.

It gives me chills to understand even a small part of this, and I’m not really sure I always do get it.  But the little glimmers I have of this great truth resonate through my soul and make me feel like I could burst my buttons!

Important?  You bet!  God did a very special thing just because of me.

Important?  Not so much.  I’m just like everyone else, living and breathing and trying to figure it all out.  Making a little headway every day, staying on course, getting up when I fall down and keeping on keeping on.

How about you?  You is important.  But then again, you are not that important.  Can you reconcile these two truths in your mind and know that Jesus loves you deeper and stronger than anything, even so?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: