Honestly, that title is all I really want to say. Sometimes I get discouraged because I feel like my story is very small. I live in a small city. I go to a small church in a land where churches can be quite enormous. My technical vocation is a writer, but that primarily means I pick up freelance gigs and write on this small blog. Beyond that, I am a substitute teacher and help take care of my children.
I sometimes flip through my college's alumni magazine and there's always that section about the incredible things that former students are doing. Some are doing cancer research, some are playing in a prestigious philharmonic orchestra, some are writing books (those people really get me). And I imagine what my blurb would like: "Chris Cox is a blogger, substitute teacher, and stay-at-home dad." It would not make my university proud.
My discouragement comes when I measure myself with others. They say that comparison is the thief of joy and I can promise you that is true. Trouble is we live in a world where the louder the voice, the more it seems to matter. You only matter as a writer if you have a best-selling book. You only matter as an athlete if you hit the game-winning shot. You only matter as a minister if your church is rapidly growing. You only matter as a teacher if you're doing a TED Talk or something. And then there's all kinds of people for whom we do not even have metrics for how they would matter. They just anonymously toil through life.
This morning, I was wallowing in that kind of discouragement. Twitter sends out these emails called "Popular in Your Network," which are basically the tweets of the most popular people that are followed by people that you follow. It's usually well-known people and this morning the subject matter was especially inane to the point where I wondered why I even bother writing anything. Silently I stewed over all of this.
It was Jim. He was sitting in the backseat as we made our way to school. Most of the car ride, he had been making explosion sounds with his superheroes.
"I love you."
Suddenly all the other stuff didn't matter.
Writing is something that I love. It would be awesome if I published a book one day and it meant something to people, but, in the meantime, it is something that I enjoy doing. It helps me think and work things out. I'm a better person when I write. Being a better person helps me to take care of that four year old in the back seat and his little brother. The things that I do are small, but it can make a difference in the lives of a few people; including some who are incredibly important to me.
You and I will probably have small stories. That's the reality. Despite what some well-meaning person said, we can't do whatever we put our minds to. What we do likely won't escape the gravity of our social circles. But what we do matters. It touches people. It changes them. Thus every action in our day has the potential to help or hurt. As a Christian, I believe that what we do can either bring life or destruction, a glimpse of God's goodness or a cold, uncaring hell. Sure, we may not ever have an impact on a massive scale. But it matters. It counts. It is important.
So whether you write, teach, work in an office, pick up garbage, take orders at a fast food restaurant, serve as a minister, unclog a toilet, watch children, take care of the sick, and pretty much everything else, your story matters. I realize I am writing that for myself as much as anyone else, but I wanted to share that. Put your heart into whatever you do and try to be there for whoever you can. There will be times that you are discouraged and it can be massively difficult. But it still makes a difference. What you do matters because you matter.