Did you happen to watch the 95th annual Academy Awards this past Sunday night? I recorded the ceremony and watched it on fast-forward, which is a nifty way of skipping the ponderous parts. If you tuned in or caught news accounts the next day, you might recall the names of the actors and films that took home the Oscars for 2023, but how long will anyone care?
Years ago, my friend Melissa sent me the following quiz. Test yourself!
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. List the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the past five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. List ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half-dozen Academy Award-winners for best actor and actress.
So, how did you do?
Ironically, the person who compiled these questions has been forgotten. Melissa’s email arrived without crediting the author. I haven’t forgotten the point, though.
“None of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate performers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.” - Anonymous
Try this quiz instead.
1. List a few teachers who influenced your life on your educational journey.
2. Name three friends who helped you through a difficult time.
3. List five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of several people who’ve made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Name five people you enjoy spending time with.
I bet you got an A on that one! We all have people who have influenced our lives in positive ways.
More importantly, how often would your name appear on someone else’s list as a friend, mentor, family member, teacher, or helper who cared? Far more often than you might realize.
I know many of you reading these words, and your names would be on my list as friends who have taught me, encouraged me, and helped me through challenging times.
You matter to me. You matter to many others, too.
And all people matter to God.
Our worth in this world has little to do with our innate abilities, talents, and giftedness. We’re not important to others because we’ve achieved fame, celebrity, or distinction. Many times it’s the hardships we’ve endured that make our stories useful to others. In speaking to a group of pastors some years ago, Rick Warren commented that in God’s garden of grace, even broken trees bear fruit.
Maybe lately you’ve felt overlooked, undervalued, or simply unseen. You’re not invited into people’s homes or to outside events as often as in the past, and nothing much comes in the daily mail except bills and circulars. It’s natural to want to be noticed.
There’s something even better than receiving positive attention, though, and that’s paying it to others.
And I happen to suspect – no, I happen to know – you are very, very good at that.
So much love,
Maggie Wallem Rowe writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass. She loves bluegrass, barbecue, hiking and dancing, but mostly she loves people.