This week, To Write Love on Her Arms asked people to answer the question, "Why can't you be replaced?" I've actually assigned a similar journal prompt for my students in the past, and the replies were often heartbreaking and shocking. It's an important issue for each of us to ask ourselves. It goes beyond acknowledging what we're good at doing or what we provide for others or even who loves us. Being irreplaceable gives our lives a deeper sense of purpose.
I have a three-year-old daughter who has given me a deeper respect and appreciation of life. It's not that I necessarily didn't enjoy living; she has just made life richer and more precious. I know that I cannot be replaced in her life. Yes, someone could meet her basic needs. They could feed her, clothe her, provide for her. Someone could even meet her emotional needs. They could love her, encourage her, comfort her, support her. But when it comes down to it, no one could replace me as her mother. Her father loves and adores her. Her grandparents think she absolutely hung the moon. But I know that no one feels for her what I feel. She grew inside me for nine months. I felt her first movements. I rocked her to sleep before she ever took her first breath in this world. I was the first person to hold her, to kiss her little face. I love her in a way that I didn't know it is possible to love. It doesn't mean I'm a perfect mom. It doesn't mean I don't get angry or frustrated. Actually, the fact that she's so much like me pretty much guarantees that I get angry and frustrated sometimes. But I look at that little girl and know that there is nothing she could do that would make me love her any less. I would go to any length to keep her safe and healthy and content. If I were taken from this earth, I know she would be loved and I know she would be cared for, but there is no one who could truly replace me as her mother. I don't say that to brag on myself or diminish anyone else's love for her. I say it because it's just true.
I cannot be replaced.
Everyone needs to know and to acknowledge why he or she can't be replaced. It's important that we have a grasp on our worth in this world.
Sometimes people begin to feel like they are a burden. Or they feel like life doesn't have purpose, that they aren't important. Depression lies and one of the biggest lies it tells is that you are worthless or meaningless.
Some people don't feel irreplaceable. They may even think their loved ones would be better without them.
So here's my challenge to you today.
First, I want you to decide why you absolutely cannot be replaced. Then I want you to write it down, either privately or publicly. Write it in a journal or on an index card. Send it out in a Tweet. Leave it as a comment on this post. But somewhere, write down why you are irreplaceable. And if you can't figure out a single reason why you cannot be replaced, then you find someone who knows you, who loves you, and you ask them. It may be awkward at first since that's not the kind of question one asks on a regular basis, but you find out why you cannot be replaced. Because you can't.
After you've done that, I want you to see out at least three people and tell them why they are irreplaceable. You may do it face to face, over the phone, in a text, on a Post-It note, on their Facebook wall, wherever and however you'd like. Tell someone why they cannot be replaced, what makes them original and indispensable. Choose anyone you'd like to tell--a family member, friend, co-worker, the barista at Starbucks. This is something we all can do. I'm not asking you to talk about mental illness or suicide or anything that might make you uncomfortable. I'm asking that you encourage at least three people in your life in a very important way.
And if it goes well, then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. Make sure everyone you care about knows why you are valuable to them.
You cannot be replaced.
I cannot be replaced.
Now go make a difference. Love to each of you.