Do I want to approach this as a question or as a statement? (Upon writing that, I realize the approach is one thing that really doesn't matter.)
When I tried to think about what matters, my first thought was of things ("matter") that have value. But that thought was quickly replaced by the importance of experiences and relationships.
Maybe that shift in perspective goes along with aging, even though I don't think 58 is that old. But I find myself focusing more on my health, relationships and experiences. And my memories.
Unfortunately, it seems my health and memory may be starting to decline, much earlier in my life than I would expect. Even as I try to turn those trends around, I find myself in a new quandary regarding material things. Pictures, newspaper and magazine clippings, greeting cards, letters, souvenirs, collected trinkets -- even clothing -- unlock memories for me. If I get rid of these memory triggers, will I lose these moments from my past?
Does it matter? What is the value of holding on to details from the past? I don't have an answer right now.
I do know that whatever value material things may have is diminished when they are stored in a disorganized mess. But I have no good answers on how to sort through it.
Another area where I wrestle with "what matters" is how I use my time. This week's theme in the First 15 daily devotional by Craig Denison is on boundaries. The readings have offered plenty of guidance as I try to discern what God wants me to be doing.
Denison wrote several things to which I related:
"I thought if I didn’t work my fingers to the bone day in and day out for the kingdom that God’s will wasn’t going to be accomplished. It’s as if I believed that I was a savior, the sole hope of the world. And all these misconceptions led to a constant weight I couldn’t seem to shake. But Isaiah 55:10-11 says, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. The truth is that God absolutely has good works laid out before me every single day. He has a plan for me that will impact eternity. But his chief desire in everything he asks of me is that we would do it together. He doesn’t need me. He wants me."
Denison often includes some questions, and the one with this hit home. My response is in the parenthesis.
3. What would it look like to live an abundant life today? What do you need to create boundaries around? What would God use today to fill you up and satisfy the dry and weary places in your heart? Take time to rest in the love of God.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
(Maybe this would be a reminder that I need to put boundaries around my food, to keep it healthy and wholesome; maybe also Facebook or other distractions. And how does getting enough sleep translate into a boundary? That may also fit with the Facebook and distractions boundary. Plus, is there a boundary that translates to making sure whatever I do is based on love of God?)
The best boundary for maintaining a sense of health is a having a weekly sabbath. Genesis 2:3 tells us, “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” To rest is holy. It’s a declaration to yourself and the world that life is about far more than work. It’s a reminder that work is just a way that we live in relationship with God. May you find grace and courage to live in line with the culture of God’s kingdom as you set boundaries around what you need in order to live an abundant life.
(Maybe this also needs to translate to my daily sabbath; respecting the time I need to set aside for rest and sleep; a declaration to myself and the world that life is about far more than work. It's a reminder that work is just a way that we live in relationship with God.)
I also ran across this, from a Dec. 3, 2013, blog post. Much of it is pulled directly from "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers for the day before.
For me, it's not even about being perfect. It's about wanting to be useful, helpful, meaningful, loving, caring and have purpose in God's world and in relationships with people. What the text helped me see is that I do tend to focus on or worry about whether I am letting God use me the way He would like to. I tend to think I fall short. And this helped me again to fathom that I truly just need to focus on the love of God through Christ, and to TRUST HIM. Last weekend was one more example of how, when I do trust that part of me that is focused on God, I end up where I am supposed to be. I have no doubt that was the case then. So how can I not also trust Him to help me take care of what's in front of me now. And so I will. (Excerpts from the pilfered text follow, with emphasis added.) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect . . . —Philippians 3:12 It is a trap to presume that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do — God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. ... What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ, and your unrestrained devotion to Him whether you are well or sick. Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that hits you is the pointlessness of the things you have to do. ... I am called to live in such a perfect relationship with God that my life produces a yearning for God in the lives of others, not admiration for myself. ... God’s purpose is not to perfect me to make me a trophy in His showcase; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He wants.
I'm also trying to tie this in with what Charlotte Lankard, a licensed family counselor, wrote in her column for The Oklahoman. She wrote about what a difference it can make to change one's attitude from "I have to" to "I get to."