A local Las Vegas magazine publishes each year The List. The List identifies celebrities, entertainers and other influencers whose contributions to the city or to charitable works made an impact for the previous year-it is quite the honor to be selected. In 2013, as an up and coming business owner who donated much free print to charitable causes, I was one of the year’s honorees. As shown in the image, I was listed just above the likes of Carrie Underwood and further down on the list, Eddie Griffin. Admittedly it was quite a shock. And of course the cover and the list are framed and hang proudly in my office as a reminder of something and someone I used to be, past tense. Perhaps if I had been a bit less charitable, my business would still be in existence, who knows.
There is an old cliché, and hit song, “What Have You Done for me Lately”. We tend to be defined not so much by past achievements or contribution as much as what we did last week. While The List or any other designation recognizes deeds, it also implies status, and sadly status is relative and ever changing. Many people who were once touted now find themselves in obscurity, having gone through challenges that most certainly knocked them off the mountain, but more importantly, left them lost and struggling to find their place when everything familiar has been removed. It is a tough place to be.
Those of us who are a bit older will recall road trips when a paper map or Atlas was needed to navigate the course. We didn’t have google maps or GPS, and if we didn’t know how to navigate a map, or if the map was outdated, it would be easy to get lost and end up way off course. There is nothing more frustrating than being miles from anywhere at night, low on gas, hungry from the trip and having no idea where you are at or where you are going. It is a lonely isolating feeling to not know your surroundings or recognize and markers. Such is life for those who fall from status through their own bad choices or as innocent bystanders who are blindsided by life.
When jobs change, relationships end, family ties are unexpectedly severed, the fall from status is hard and impactful. Those who suffer from depression face each day trying to find their place, their role, their purpose. The current number of suicides each year by celebrities, business moguls and even clergy illustrate this fact. It doesn’t matter sometimes how the world sees you-if you feel you have lost your way you are in a vacuum of despair trying to fit in like a game of musical chairs in the dark. And even we as believers can lose our way or sense of purpose or worth when faced with some of life’s toughest challenges, especially when God leaves us to our own devices as an unwelcomed test. No one welcomes this kind of testing.
Truth be known, each of us have our own version of The List, a group of people who are held in high esteem in our lives because of their genuine love, concern and guidance. A list of celebrities may be framed and forgotten but a list comprised in the heart is a living document that endures. And while each of us have such a list, each of us would also be found on someone else’s list. We all matter to someone, even on days when we don’t believe it. Our lives are always under a microscope, especially when you profess a Christian faith. Our sphere of influence may not be obvious to us during darker times but is exists all the same. The approach we take to hardship, our response to loss or change, are always being reviewed, and those reviews determine whose lists we end up on, and our consistency determines if we stay on those lists or are easily blocked or removed like social media connections as in Unfriended, Unfollowed or Unlisted. Our goal should be to constantly have positive influence on someone daily, even if it is as simple as mentioning someone in prayer. A published list distributed by the world may be a cool honor, but a heart-created list of influence by friends and family is enduring. My prayer would be that each of us find our place, our purpose, our worth in our circle of friends and family, and our name on their list.