Why 2020 and 2021 Matter for You and the Rest of the World
FEBRUARY 13, 2021
Someone wise once told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I bet someone wise once told you that, too. Therein lies the conundrum that has been my writing life in the year 2020: I just haven’t had a whole lot of anything nice to say.
That’s not the whole truth, though, because my brain houses more introductory paragraphs than I can reasonably catalog. The truth has more to do with the fact that what I have to say—nice or otherwise—seems insignificant. Boy, aren’t you just dying to hear what I have to say now?
For the most part, my observations of this year and this spiritual path and of life in general are being written by other, shinier authors. People with broader audiences and lovelier platforms. I actually began writing a new book several years ago that I was absolutely certain God had whispered in my ear only to have it rejected by my previous publisher. They probably knew then what I did not yet: a big-name gal with books in her wake debuted a big-name book on the exact same topic a few months after I submitted mine to the publishing house.
I wonder, then, in a world filled with platforms for the taking, why it matters what I have to say.
This is false, actually. This line of thinking that tells me my voice doesn’t matter because it only reaches a few who want to hear it is the product of a country and culture that produces industries that revere the words of some and ignore the words of others, simply because there is a bottom line to keep an eye on. And it’s false.
It’s false because some of the well-known people we listen to aren’t saying anything new. It’s false because we think they have more important things to say because they are attractive and trendy or loud and powerful. It’s false because it ignores the call that God has whispered into the ears of those who may only have one person who cares what they say. That one person matters, as does the passion and drive God has given to the author.
Turns out, I do have something nice to say, and maybe you’re the one who needs to hear it today. You matter. Your call, your passion, your skills, your strengths, your talents—it all matters.
History is stacked with the stories of those who lived and died in obscurity, only to have their works resurrected and revered for centuries well beyond their own lifetimes. We who love books and words would be bereft without the prose of Emily Dickinson, but of the nearly 1800 poems she wrote, fewer than a dozen were actually published during her lifetime. We can hardly say her writing didn’t matter.
Henry David Thoreau, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Kafka, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe . . . their works were profound and larger than life, but they weren’t deemed significant enough to make a mark during their own lifetimes. Stories like these always make me pause and consider the weight of my own words. Who might stand to gain if I open my mouth or get the introductory paragraphs out of my brain and into the world?
Who might need to hear your words or music, your passion to help the disenfranchised, your soothing compassion, your comforting or innovative cooking, your brilliant brainstorming, your splashes of color and form?
What we are called to matters in years of despair and years of celebration. Maybe just one ear will hear our truths, but we cannot say that the one ear doesn’t matter.
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31