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Do You Think That You Matter?

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Would the world be any different if you weren’t 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 or meaningful.

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 don’t 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 doesn’t matter anyway, how committed or passionate can you be?

But here is a message that will change your life forever: Birth is G-d’s 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 executive—very 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 eyes:

“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 someone’s balance sheet, that our value is measured in buying power, productivity, looks, youth, contacts, and money—none 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 you.

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.

A Spiritual Road Map for Living

Toward a Meaningful Life

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Dixion Myas

No persons life maters. One day our species will go extinct and the world will keep on going… Until the earth is swallowed by our expanding sun or it is destroyed from the means of space derby, witch shows you how little importance our life and society have that one day our planet wont exist. No one including my self matters at all, if we all died today the only out come would be more recourses for others and wild life. Get over your self non of us are important.

BMM

I don’t know any of you but hearing some of you say that you don’t matter breaks my heart. You see, you do matter. You matter to someone else. Be it a family member or a stranger. Everybody is responsible for their own destiny. You and only you get to choose which direction you want to take, no matter what your story is. There will always be someone out there that you matter to. Don’t shut down and be miserable. Put your best foot forward .Always be kind. People respond to kindness. Say something nice to someone or do a… Read more »

Cath

I feel like I don’t matter all that much anymore. Except to help others to get jobs done. But that’s about it. I feel hated by my father. Maybe it’s a matter of geography and time that only then would I actually ‘feel’ that I matter more than this. I feel God seems rather indifferent to the fact that I feel hurt and I feel like I screwed up too much for him to help me now. Mother well I can’t count on her to comfort me either. It’s apparent I don’t seem to matter enough for companionship.

Anonymous

Never understood why I was put on this earth. Come from a very broken home. Parents divorced after ten years of marriage leaving my mentally unbalanced mother to raise three girls. She tried to kill us but never succeeded. I have a scar from a knife she used to try and hurt me. ( Why was she created? Why does she matter)? I don’t have the answer to that. G-d must know. G-d seems to want me to suffer every minute of the day. I’m older than old but still feel the hair being pulled out of my head. Still… Read more »

Kiki

Thank You Rabbi Jacobson. I enjoy your writings as well as your YouTube videos. I am not Jewish although I have Jewish Grandparents. I met G-d through Sunday school at a fundamentalist Christian Church as a child. I always felt his presence and even learned from the stories of Jesus. I could never reconcile myself to the teachings of Saul/Paul and felt there was something not quite right in the New Testament. I am so glad that I discovered my Jewish ancestors it caused me to read everything I could about Judaism and to go to our local Chabad that… Read more »

Cath

I honestly feel sometimes I don’t matter all that much. I don’t have close friends I can talk to and joke with or share my feelings or share anything. In the last year, the loneliness I felt was just hard to take. I honestly feel like no one seems to be on my side by God alone.

Anonymous

Look, I learned a long time ago nothing I did would matter. No matter how hard I tried to fix myself, my mistakes, something worse would have after I thought everything was fine. The only reason why I’m still here today is that I realized that I had some importance, however small, it did matter. I saved a friend of mine while he was going through a severe state of depression. I know what I’m about to say might not sound plausible, but hear me out. He was contemplating suicide, and couldn’t find a way to become joyful. So, I… Read more »

Not Saying

If I don’t matter, I guess it’s because of the role I was assigned when I was born: Scapegoat. People can say and do whatever they want to me and get away with it – when I’m bullied, nothing is done, even if someone, such as a teacher, witnessed it! I have been pushed down the stairs and had my foot broken and the person that did it said “Go fucking die you retard!” and a teacher saw this but did the bully get punished? No, because he bumped into me apparently! They ignored the fact that he SHOUTED “Go… Read more »

Leslie

I think you’re all missing the point.
You were born because God thinks you mattered. What you do with your life after that is what you matter to yourself and maybe if you have something to give back, what you give back to God.
One is never lost or alone unless you choose to be.
I hear a lot of pity parties going on. Sorry, those kind of parties I don’t attend.

Jefferson

Don’t do it for do it because you want to have a long life It’s up to you and you never know when your time in this world is up

joyce

I use to hate my life and at the same time, I feel so guilty cuz I’ve got the most amazing kid on earth and on the other hand I was like, I’m stuck in a marriage where I feel like I’m nothing to my husband..and my husband, doesn’t care about me and my kid and also I sometimes feel like my daddy loves my husband more than me cuz he watches what my husband do to us and yet still tells me that is life and I should be patient and be a wife and sometimes he even thinks… Read more »

not important

I don’t know or care how old this is just need to make a comment if there is a God i don’t know … no one actually knows until they die. I am only 100% sure of one thing if there is a God for some reason he hates me. That is a FACT. I have been wanting to die since i was a little girl I used to pathetically attempt suicide as a child and a young adult.. I don’t know what is on the other side and what if something is there? What if reincarnation is real and… Read more »

Nothing

This was just as useless as the rest of the articles Ive read on why I matter. God, Im sorry, ahem, “god” is no reason for me to matter, he didnt make me, if he did, I can assure you that he made a mistake. “The meaningful life center”, ha, you guys know about as much as the toiler paper I use to wipe my ass does. There is no god. If there is, then Hes a SHITTY one. I live with a family that doesn’t give a fuck enough to notice the cuts on wrists that i put there… Read more »

Scott

This article really made me feel better and have tears…I thought that no one would know I feel like and now I know that I am not alone thank you so much

Dark Matter

I am dark matter. I am soulless material. Maybe I was something once but if I was it’s destroyed forever. I walk empty with my child still beside me. I do things I used to do that I was passionate about and it’s all labor now. I’m suicide and I’m murder, and we all share the same nightmare in our collective waking hours. And I don’t sleep at night because I don’t dream. This life makes no sense unless we derive a sense of meaning. If you don’t, you’ll walk around empty and already dead like me. Every good thing… Read more »

Alone

I struggle every day with that question, among others… “Do I really matter?” “Have I ever mattered?” “Maybe I’ve messed up so many times, G-d is through with me.” Maybe it’s just self-pity. I don’t know anymore. It seems all I do is mess up everyone’s life. I don’t have any friends. My wife despises me. My kids love me, so they say, and I guess they do. I don’t have many extended family member alive – the ones that are are too removed from my life that they couldn’t help much if I needed them – they live too… Read more »

IllyanaKathleen.

Rabbi, I will very respectfully disagree with you. The mere act of my birth is not enough for me to matter in this world. My voice does not matter. My existence does not matter. This has been proven over and over and over to me by the world around me. There is not a role in my life where I am cannot be easily replaced or where my absence would make no difference in the ‘verse.

I am not that person who matters. I am only a cog in a machine that’s easily replaced.

RUTH CU-N

At first, I thought I don’t matter on this earth because i don’t have anyone who sees me as important. Thus, when people are going – am sitting, when they are talking, I don’t talk. But as I read this article, I know that “Birth alone, is God’s way of saying” I matter on this earth. And also we don’t need people to tell us how much we matter on this earth. Don’t think of what others will say about you………..But I wish to get more articles just to boost my knowledge on how I matter on this earth.

Frane Selak

It was hard for me to believe when i saw a comment on the Internet regarding how Dr.Zack Balo help people winning lottery by sending them the winning numbers. This winning numbers are 100% guarantee that you must win the lottery. I give it a try and i won $1 million in the Croatian lottery. My comment might looks funny to you but it is the truth, The email is wiseindividualspell@gmail.com or you can contact him through his phone number +2348078927387 and i promise you that it will not be funny when you win and share a testimony with others.… Read more »

Bob

Unfortunately, the article assumes God; whatever you think that is, exists. There is no way of proving that such a thing exists, faith is NOT enough. I drift through each day of my pointless, meaningless ,futile and painful life wondering what I`m doing here and why. This article provides no answer.

Undesireable

I believe the question to ask is not whether or not the world would be different had you not been born or fulfilled your mission in life. Instead, the question to ask yourself to determine whether or not you matter is Would the world be better off if you had never been born. It doesn’t matter what other people think or what they say about you. The feeling of not mattering comes from a self assessment/determination that you have come up short in every expectation of what you thought your life would be and how it has turned out. Another… Read more »

Your Friend

I suffer from OCD & depression, suicide has always been an option for me; but I do not use this as an excuse not to live. I use it as an excuse TO live. We all have a past; good or bad. We can focus on the good or bad… however, the more we focus on the bad the less we will accomplish to make things better. I have always been told to worry about today, because the past is over and the future is ahead of us. However, when I plan for the future I seem to accomplish more… Read more »

Sumit

I stopped reading the second GOD word came

E

What is G-d ??????? Does it stand for GOD ???? If so, then spell it out.

Blanche Musilli

I have been very depressed and I really wish I would die, because only then would I have peace. After reading all these comments I really feel like I have been an inspiration for many people. Even tho I’m always sad. I make people laugh. God puts words in my mouth that make them happy. I never pass a baby without telling them how beautiful and precious they are. Many people pay me compliments it makes me feel good. As long as you can smile and say a kind word you are doing Gods work. Keep smiling & God bless… Read more »

An optimist

It really is up to me how much I matter. I do not need to be loved deeply by anyone forever. I do not need anyone to miss me to convince me how much I matter. The truth is we do not know, or we forget, who loves us or who misses us. Sometimes we take those people for granted. I am the one who decides when and how I matter. I do not need anyone’s approval to do so. Through out my life I have mattered in many ways even as a child. I have looked after many children… Read more »

Lisa Barnaby

In the big picture I definitely feel worthless, that my life doesn’t matter because there have been millions of people before me. Yet, I am not sure but think my life matters because my main goal in life is to make life better for other people if only with a smile, a kind word, a favor etc. I am pretty sure that I would not be here if there wasn’t a reason for it.

Alone Again ... Naturally

I’d like to share with you, my theme song (thanks to Gilbert O’Sullivan). Could have been written with me in mind: In a little while from now If I’m not feeling any less sour I promise myself to treat myself And visit a nearby tower And climbing to the top Will throw myself off In an effort to Make it clear to whoever What it’s like When you’re shattered Left standing in the lurch at a church Were people are saying, My God, that’s tough She stood him up No point in us remaining We may as well go home… Read more »

Bubs

I think that you comments exclude the non-believer and also gloss over the journey you may have made to arrive at comment to begin with. We are not important because we are born. We derive our sense of self worth in relation to everyone around us. That’ is why it cripples us when we are treated as if we don’t matter. Some of us will never matter to the other people that attach themselves to us. Developing that sense of self-worth in the face of a whole of theatre of people who tell you the opposite is the real struggle.… Read more »

Jay

Thanks for the kind words, you uplifted my soul!

pointless

I sit here day after day, week by week, even month by month and just ask myself one simple question: why do I hate myself. Today on October Second 2015, I finally figured it out. I hate myself because Im alone in this world. I came in by myself and I will leave everything by myself. There is no such thing as soulmates or a true love, every person you meet in your life is disposable in your life, even yourself. We use other people to make ourselves better and try to forget that we are truly alone, yes there… Read more »

Tysns_turn_2keep_itreal

Attention anyone out there you has left a negative comment about this article. You dont have to believe in God or Someone or something greater than yourself if you dont want to. The point of this article was to breathe a little hope into the readers out there that feel unwanted or unrecognized. If this article changes at least one persons outlook on life for the better, the article did something great. If you feel you dont matter and it bothers you then stop bitching about not making a difference and do something that matters. Theres nothing more detrimental to… Read more »

I dont matter, nothing would change with or without me. No one would notice if I was gone. No one would care. Its a nice thought, but I dont matter.

Hannah

I just wanted to say thank you. I really needed that boost. I am not religious and have not been to church in a very long time. But those words really touched me. I dont know why. Its just nice to know that in someones eyes I will always matter. Even though I will always struggle with my depression and my issues I feel that these words will help me live everyday. Thank you for posting this.

noemi vieyra

Im 14 and I honestly think life would be better without me. My mom always takes her anger out towards me and when my sister starts an argument I get yelled at. I have thought about suicide at least 5 times.My dad is on prison and my mom constantly telling me that I was mistake. 🙁

coolbreeze

keltin…Im in the same boat as you. I understand as you….I have been in therapy SEEMS LIKE FOREVER.

No One of Consequence

And what about the people who believe that human beings only came up with the concept of god to explain the things they didnt understand? 3,000 years ago knowledge and the scientific method were non existent or their infancy. People who needed an explanation for how things worked were willing to acceptgods will. Theres really no place for it in the modern world because evolution, and the laws of physics make so much more sense than POOF! and the first chicken suddenly appears out of thin air! So is this answer only for people willing to believe in YOUR god… Read more »

Mr. Reality

Rather than spending money to hear someones personal opinions as to why or if you matter, only you, by choice can decide you matter.

laura

This story made me cry a lot because I really thought I didnt matter but now I know I do matter and no matter what others say, to myself I matter. This relly helped me understand that I do matter

Kelton

I just read this article…. And it pisses me off to say the least. I understand youre trying to better people with what youre saying. But what about the atheist in life? Or, like me, the people who are agnostic? What you say doesnt make sense to me. If I am in this earth for a reason, then when does this reason come into play? If god is there, then when does he finally prove it to me? I use to go to church with my family all the time as a child. And I use to pray. I even… Read more »

myself

I get what youre saying and its partially right. But my immediate lance through my heart is so my baby that didnt get a chance to be born doesnt matter? Thats unbearably cruel and I know not what youre saying but thats how it comes across

Marcelo

Nice text, but I dont think you really believe what youre saying, specially when the article ends with the words Click here to order your own copy of Toward a Meaningful Life. Like most people, youre just selling. Youre just saying the exact words you believe will lead to your desired outcome: for people to take the money out of their pockets and put it into yours. THAT is the problem right there: if my life matters so much, why are people only trying to get money from me? Why arent they trying to give me money instead? You can… Read more »

Vicky

Nice article, but like many comments below, I dont feel I matter just because I was born. A lot of people are born and die in early childhood because they dont matter enough to their parents or the society (maybe medical costs to keep them alive arent justified but there are many other cases). Perhaps death is also meaningful if someone lived just for a few seconds on this Earth. But it doesnt prove an existence of a caring God who loves and values us.

Chris

I have no family other than some very distant cousins so every day I struggle with feelings of intense loneliness and the feeling that I dont really matter to anyone. Knowing I matter to God isnt really enough for me. I would love so much to matter to just one person.

Eileen

Hi,reading the stories of so many unhappy people is touching. I too am on this site for having the same feelings. I have struggled with trust for the majority of my life, I come from a large family, where you were lucky if your name was even remembered. My father was emotional abusive, my mother did her best and I know she loved me, but our childhood was a constant round of sexual an emotional abuse. This destroyed my trust as I was seven when the sexual abuse started, we walked into a pedophile ring when we moved in with… Read more »

Taylor Hall

Ive been questioning if I actually matter for a long while now. I do know that I matter- I had a near death experience four years ago when I was 14. I was in a bicycle accident on July 2nd at camp where I flew over my handle bars into a tree, fracturing my skull, five vertebrae, and causing a traumatic brain injury. I was unconscious when I fell into poison ivy, fracturing three ribs. I thank god every day that my younger sister, who was eleven at the time, reacted the way she did. She didnt know how injured… Read more »

kel

Of everything ive read….i still truly believe that I dont matter….if I died tomorrow no one will notice or wonder where I am or care that i was alive.

Sharon Brisnehan

I have this feeling sometimes and it is powerful. When it happens I tell myself that it is just a feeling and that it will pass because everything passes. Even the feeling that it wont pass, does indeed pass. I also look, as I am now looking here on this site, for someone elses testimony. I do so to reaffirm that I am not alone. What I feel is not mine alone. And that gives me the perspective of a shared experience. If I am sharing this feeling then I have changed it from an internal feeling to an outward… Read more »

Or

This was a nice article, but no, not helpful to me. What good is it that I matter to G-d when people around me treat me in a way which makes me feel hurt or invisible? Mattering to G-d is just a nice slogan. The fact that you speak about it is nice, but you are a lone voice in the wilderness. Most people only want to be friends with people who massage their egos.

Marcia

I am 31, mother of three ages 13,4,7mo. I suffer from depression.I was suposed to be married but never put our relationship first, he knew I was bad but ignored me any way. I failed at everything. I dont feel I have a place in this world. Hopeless, meaningless, invisable, hateful, angry, and incredably lonely. Not a friend in the world! I shut everyone out and build a wall around me. I have been abused and negected my whole life. How do I stop my very distructive behavior? I think about death every day!!! Anti-depressants not working…help!

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