“Critically, studies indicate that it isn’t enough to simply be around or even liked by other people. We need to feel valued by them…” – Dr. Clay Routledge, New York Times
This past week I was given an assignment for class: find a news article in the last three months that relates to mental health. I spent the morning in the library working on other things and finally started my search for a news article. Honestly, I wasn’t putting much thought into my search. I planned on finding the first thing that seemed remotely interesting and choosing it. But what I found actually did interest me.
An author for the New York Times wrote a piece titled, “Suicides Have Increased. Is This an Existential Crisis?”. To save you extensive reading, the author discussed how suicide rates have continued to increase and how the cause could be that we feel as though our lives are meaningless. Most importantly, he connected the feeling of meaninglessness with how we do not feel valued in our relationships.
Over the course of your life, I am confident that you have had relationships that are meaningful and deep as well as relationships that are shallow. In shallow relationships, there is a lot of laughter, but there isn’t a lot of value. Sure, it’s nice to have a friend even if the relationship is not very meaningful, but as Dr. Routledge mentioned, we need to feel valued. It’s important that we all find relationships where we find value and where we can find a bit more meaning for our lives.
Humans are social beings. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, we all need connection with other people. I have personally experienced loneliness, as I’m sure you have as well, and it’s not easy to deal with. When you are in a lonely period of your life it can make it even more difficult to get out there and establish those connections with people. If you have a friend, a family member, a coworker or colleague, or really just anyone in your life who you feel like is battling loneliness, help them through it! Ask them to lunch, send them a kind message, compliment them — just do anything you can to help that person feel valued.
The Pastor at Southland Christian Church, Jon Weece, discussed one Sunday how it is important for us to see a need and meet a need. One of the current needs in our society is to find the people you belong with and to establish meaning or purpose in our lives. If you see that need in a person around you, meet it! We don’t have to spend all of our money to help someone feel appreciated or valued. All we have to do is extend a little kindness.
And remember, you do have a meaningful life and you have a purpose. God created you perfectly and Jesus shed his blood for you. You are loved. You are valued. And you have a purpose for being here.