Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
Wow. What a performer. Listen to that control. Listen to that phrasing. 11 years old, and she sounds every bit like she’s been there. She’s at once fragile and exquisite.
When I was 11 years old, I sounded like an enthusiastic, barking seal. It took hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of voice lessons, classroom choral singing, extracurricular rehearsals, actual stage experience, and thousands upon thousands of dollars for me to be able, sometimes, to sound like something else.
You never know, but chances are she’ll grow up to be a nurse and a mother. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Both are high callings. That she should be so blessed someday with either one, much less both.
Until fairly recently, I used to hear or see talent like that and think, “If you have that kind of talent, why wouldn’t you want to pursue a career performing with it? Why would you not want to share that with the world?”
As it turns out, there are many reasons. All of us, for sure, can do much more than we ever will. Hence Robert Frost’s 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘙𝘰𝘢𝘥 𝘕𝘰𝘵 𝘛𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯. Life is short. We all leave something on the table as the door shuts behind us.
But God may see it differently. How many treasures has He made that the world will never see? How many stars? How many flowers? How many as inspiring as ever could be? Maybe God creates, not necessarily for our satisfaction, but for His. Maybe sometimes, he creates to share with a few, but not necessarily with everybody. Haven’t we all seen or otherwise experienced something that we knew was special, and relatively fleeting, and thought, “Wow, I’m standing on holy ground here.” And, if we’re wise, we just stand there, immobilized, allowing the memory to sear us, lest we ever forget.
Maybe more of us should see ourselves that way, the way God sees us. Some part of us, maybe, to share with the world. Some part of us to share with a few. But, in this world of individuals desperate for any kind of attention, any kind of affirmation, any kind of “love,” no matter how perverse, no matter how shallow, no matter how ephemeral, maybe if we realized that there are just some parts of us that are every bit as precious, as unique, as amazing, but that are meant to be shared, maybe, with only one other person, and, possibly, only with the One who made us out of His own boundless creativity, then in that sharing, we might find ourselves, in a sense, one with Him.
Doesn’t that sound satisfying? What if we were made, primarily, to be adored by our Creator? What if He made us… just to enjoy us, and we enjoy Him?
If we all really experienced that, would TikTok exist? Would OnlyFans exist? Would the internet itself be anything but a humdrum network of chat rooms and message boards frequented by Defense Department workers and graduate student nerds?
There are two kinds of value for any given thing: intrinsic value and relative value. Intrinsic value is that value which cannot be lost because it is innately characteristic to very identity of the object.
What so many of us have lost in our search for internet fame might be a proper understanding of the relationship between anything and its relative value. What if all streets really were paved with gold, but toilet paper — ah, but this almost happened just three years ago, right? — 𝘵𝘰𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘱𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘳 could only be found in three places in the world? In that world, what would be more valuable, gold or toilet paper? Toilet paper, right? And why? One word: scarcity. Scarcity, more than probably any other factor, determines relative value.
If the universe is meaningless, though, then so is the question, “Why?”
We all started out as inert material, and we’ll all end up as inert material, and nobody will be around to have appreciated the in-between. So what does it all matter? It doesn’t.
But… if the universe was intentionally created, and so were we, then that question, “Why?” becomes relevant, because creations are made for a reason… they have meaning, right? Now we have something to pursue.
What if God made us primarily to be in relationship with us? Then our very existence has meaning, right? That means our worth is intrinsic — not depending on what we do, but simply who we are, because God made us just to 𝘣𝘦 with Him.
Each one of us has a unique fingerprint, even among identical twins. Isn’t that interesting? Twins, conceived with identical DNA, split from the same fertilized egg, still have different fingerprints. And guess what? Scientists are baffled. They can’t explain it. It shouldn’t be. But it is.
From God’s perspective, no matter what we look like superficially, we are utterly unique. And God is so interested in us, He knows the individual hairs on our head. He keeps track of them. That’s what He says. They matter to Him. We matter to Him. Why? Because we’re 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘦.
There’s not another one of us, not in the whole universe. We are above the animals; we are not just made. We, Genesis says, are made in the image of God. We create because He creates. So our actual — intrinsic — worth is constant, because it never changes, because God’s love for us never changes. He didn’t make us just to exist and blow away. We are, emphatically, not just “dust in the wind.” Even the guy who wrote and sang that doesn’t believe it anymore!
We are made to know Him as no other part of His Creation is. We are made to join Him in creating, not just offspring, but expressing the unique souls that He gave us.
But unless we recognize and live by that intrinsic, eternal worth, we will always be chasing an upgrade in our relative worth, i.e., the world’s assessment of us based on what we do, instead of who we are. And, like chasing money, it’s never enough. It’s a pursuit that never gives us rest or peace. It’s a pursuit that eventually, one way or another, leads to death.
And, like this 11-year-old girl, we are made for more. God is not God because He creates. He creates because He is God. Our creativity, similarly, isn’t our worth, but rather, an indication of it. But even when that creativity is hidden or dormant, our worth is still there, because God put it there, and He still desires us, always. The love of the world may sometimes determine our relative worth. But God determines our forever worth. And that is a reason to sing.