by Simon Jacobson
Would the world be any different if you werent born?
Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you have an important
role to play in the grand scheme of things?
Most of us grow up in a world where life is dispensable,
where our individual contributions go unrecognized, where
there is no real sense that life - ours or anyone's - is significant
At the root of this restlessness and discontent is the deep-deated
conviction that "I Don't Matter." A belief that
if I were to show up someplace or not, or make some kind of
contribution or not, it would not fundamentally affect the
world or the people that live in it.
Think about that for a minute. If you dont feel like
you make a difference in the world, how excited can you be
about the things you do and the choices you make? When you
wake up in the morning and you feel like what you do that
day doesnt matter anyway, how committed or passionate
can you be?
But here is a message that will change your life forever:
Birth is G-ds way of saying "you matter."
This means you are absolutely necessary. You are indispensable
to G-d's vision of the world, chosen to fulfill a mission
in this world that you and only you can accomplish Like musical
notes in the grand Divine composition, each of us has our
unique music to play.
If you think this is a simple message, let me share with
you a letter that I received from a woman who read my book
Toward a Meaningful Life:
"I am a 47-year-old executivevery successful and
accomplished; admired and respected. Yet beneath this fine
veneer lies a woman in shreds. You see, my soul was murdered
as a young child when my parents abused me physically, emotionally,
sexually. Every day of my life is essentially a struggle against
suicide. I feel no self value, actually no self at all. I
am a sum of my parts, and my value is based on how others
value me. I have tried many therapies but essentially have
remained the same. Intimacy doesnt work in my life,
relationships are either unhealthy or nonexistent.
"In order to compensate for this deep void and lack,
what I have done, as do people in this situation, I have become
superambitious and hyperproductive in order to create some
semblance of outer control in place of no inner control. It
helps distract me somewhat and helps get me through the day,
but it doesnt really change anything. Inside I am a
wreck, and every day, sometimes every moment, is another struggle.
"I had long given up hope and resigned myself to this
life of misery. But then a miracle happened. Someone gave
me the book Toward a Meaningful Life as a gift. I am Jewish
but non-observant, and I was glancing through the book with
a measure of skepticism until a line jumped out at me and
struck me like a thunderbolt, like a silver bullet between
"The line said: BIRTH IS G-D SAYING THAT YOU MATTER.
I read it again. BIRTH IS G-D SAYING YOU MATTER.
I read it over and over at least 500 times. And I will continue
to read it every day of my entire life.
"I suddenly realized, after 47 years, that no matter
what my parents told me, no matter how they said I was an
accident and a source of misery in their lives, that no matter
how society tells us that we are just a statistic in someones
balance sheet, that our value is measured in buying power,
productivity, looks, youth, contacts, and moneynone
of matters because I matter to the One who matters most. To
G-d, who created me and said, I want you on this Earth.
I need you.
"The mere fact that I was born, that I exist, regardless
of my mood, my performance level, my looks that day. The mere
fact that I am here is a vote of confidence from G-d that
I am indispensable, absolutely necessary, irreplaceable. No
one can replace me. I matter. I truly matter.
"Do you know how that made me feel? That I have permission
to matter. I am commanded to matter.
"So though I still have many years to heal, now, for
the first time in my life, I have hope. And I know what I
need to do. I need to create bypass surgery to bypass the
infected arteries that my parents gave me when they touched
me, criticized me, hit me, for the first time, and reconnect
to that first, pure, innocent moment of birth, when G-d said
YOU MATTER, you are indispensable.
"So thank you for giving me back my life."
This letter left me in tears for some time. It is a letter
that changed my life. I grew up in a relatively healthy home
and was nurtured and made to feel valuable. But hearing the
heart-wrenching story from a woman who did not have that luxury,
I was challenged to ask myself: "Do I matter because
my parents valued me and because of my achievements, or do
I matter in a more permanent, cosmic way?"
I began to pose this question to audiences across the country
- and I ask you, dear reader, the same: Do you think that
you really matter? The knee-jerk response is usually : Of
course I matter - I feel that I am important. My family, friends
and work colleagues value me. But let me rephrase the question:
Would it make a difference if you were never born? Remember,
before you were born, it would not be a catastrophe if you
did not appear; no one would miss you because no one was expecting
Of course, we can justify our existence once we are born.
But does our existence have any merit beyond our justifications?The
only absolute reason why you truly matter is because you were
chosen by G-d to come to this world. The words "Birth
is G-d saying you matter" are not my own. They are taken
from the Torah,which states the single most important truth
you will ever hear:
Yes, you matter, not because you think you are important,
or because others tell you that you are, or because of your
buying power, monetary value, looks, performance or productivity
level. But because G-d put you here. You are an indispensable
musical note. Irreplaceable. Period. The world would be different
if you were not here or if you do not fulfill your calling.
You have been allotted a certain section of this globe, with
certain talents; people you will meet; experiences you will
have; places you will go; objects you will obtain - all are
allocated to you in order for you to transform them, to leave
them differently from how you found them. And this change
lives forever. Eternally.
When you know that you and your contribution are crucial,
it infuses all that you do with a compelling sense of urgency.
I believe that this simple, clear message is preventive medicine
for much of the tragedy and suffering that plague our world
today-the shootings, the hatred, the suicides, the wars. We
need to reach to every person, to every child, every parent,
every educator, every leader, with the message: You matter.
Your life and what you do with it matters. You are indispensable
to G-d and to this world.
Click here to order your own copy of Toward
a Meaningful Life