Tag Archive | impact

Skipping Stones

At some level we all want to know we are important. The truth is that actions and words can have a ripple effect we don’t know about and that can impact the world for centuries to come. It’s hard to live in that reality that one person is important. That no person is ever unimportant.

Some people are a force to be reckoned with. When you think of people in the public eye, their good (or bad) deeds are seen by many and have a ripple effect. When we hear of their deaths, (rest in peace Andy Griffith), we mourn as if we knew them.

But we didn’t.

me with burlap to cashmere
I got all fangirlish seeing a band I loved from way back. They were gracious enough to let me get my photo taken with them. (Thanks Burlap to Cashmere! You guys RAWK!). The fact is though, they gave me an hour of pleasure in watching them exercise their God-given gifts. Then I go back to my life and they go home. They don’t know me and won’t remember me and while I will always appreciate their music, I don’t really know them beyond what I can read on-line. I don’t know their favorite color or what makes them laugh or what their biggest fears are.

As I reflected on this it hit me that we do this to people whose gifts we appreciate. And while they share the gospel in song, they aren’t saving lives or fighting for our freedoms.

But no one is more important than anyone else. 

I’m nothing special. I suspect I would be missed more for what I do than for who I am when the time comes. Because much like the guys in a band, most of you really don’t know me. And maybe that’s good. I’m pretty open and honest about what I like and don’t so if you follow me here or my fan page on Facebook, you’ll get a pretty good clue. But even then you won’t know the deep hurts that resonate within me day after day. And in reality, you probably don’t care. You have your own hurts to hold. And social media is not the place to always share those darker corners of our souls.

Image courtesy of njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of njaj / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In some ways I resemble a skipping stone. Smooth on the outside. Maybe even flat (they skip better I hear). God tosses me out on the lake of humanity and I touch and leave ripples, skip and repeat and eventually, plop. Down I go to sink beneath the surface as if I never appeared. Maybe that skip was a blog post, or a one-on-one for counseling, a class I taught or sending a contract for a book. But then you move on with your life and I move on with mine, sinking under the water.

Blub. Blub. Blub.

And the only way I can resurface is when God reaches down to pull me back out again and cast me where he wants me to go. There for a moment and then gone, hopefully touching lives for the better but always sinking in the end.

Some people are blessed. God has gifted them with another human being, a spouse or a closer-than-a-brother friend to celebrate or commiserate with the skips. Someone who validates that even after the ripples fade, that yes, they had been there and made a wave. I hope that a band like Burlap to Cashmere have close relationships within that group to get them through the lonely moments of life. I hope you do too. In the meantime I’ll just keep letting God drag me up from the bottom of whatever lake he’s skipped me across and let him toss me again and trust that somehow, in the sea of time, I make a difference. Even if no one else notices. And that that difference pleased my Creator.

In the meantime, maybe you’ll be blessed by this band and their classic hit from 1998 performed at a live concert earlier this summer.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life Even When It Isn’t

A depressed George Bailey.

A depressed George Bailey.

Depression sucks.

So I referenced It’s A Wonderful Life in my title. Here’s why. I dislike that movie. Ironically when it first came out it did poorly at the box office. It didn’t even break even financially. In the film world, it was a dud.

I hate a movie that became a Christmas classic. The reason is that poor George had dreams and he gave them up. He had waited and saved and held a carrot out in front of him and it was snatched ruthlessly from his grip when he was on the cusp of reaching his dream.

This man’s suicide attempt didn’t just happen when money was lost and he was going to be arrested for a fraud he never committed. No. It came when he gave up his dreams.

Yes, he was noble and responsible and he sacrificed it all at the altar of everyone else’s dreams and needs and then ended up getting screwed in the end anyway. (Yes, I know it ends happily but come on, he got the raw end of a deal from Mr. Potter). So he did what he was supposed to do. All the right things. And it still left him empty.

Grab a tissue.

Maybe I relate too closely to George Bailey. Maybe the reason the movie is now a classic is that at some level, we all relate.

Who among us gets everything we dreamed of

and longed for out of this life?

Making a difference in the lives of others is the silver lining in this tale. Was George the richest man in town though because his friends came through for him? I mean, sure, he avoids prison, but does it really fill that hole deep inside?

At the heart of depression is a feeling of worthlessness. Even more than that is a sense of helplessness. George Bailey had, in many ways, let life make choices for him. Sometimes, when depressed, a person can’t even see the choices that might be out there. Yes, George made some good choices and impacted the lives of many. In the alternate universe only the negative was highlighted though. Does one person’s life really make that much of a difference?

A depressed person can’t see that their life makes a difference. No matter what anyone tells them, the message is blocked by the words and lies of others planted early on that say otherwise. After all, shouldn’t those people closest to us and have known us the best speak truth when they tell us no one will ever love us? Or that we aren’t pretty enough? Or smart enough? Or important enough?

“In 900 years of time and space

I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”

Doctor Who

Yeah, I’m quoting a fictional character. Get over it. The fact of the matter is, even the shyest among us wants to be considered important. That’s why we want to the object of someone’s love. Or have a BFF. Or be the best at whatever it is we do. Because somehow that means our existence is validated.

Andy Andrews wrote a book called The Butterfly Effect that illustrates the importance of one life and the millions of lives one person can impact over generations.

It’s hard to see with that kind of vision when one is in a deep pit smothered in a thick woolen blanket. And the world around is farting in your face.

The real tightrope is our identity in Christ. I am his favorite child. The favorite of all the people He created like me . . . because there is only one me. But He has other favorites too. You are His favorite you. With a unique fingerprint, DNA, gifts, personality and life experiences, no one else is like you.

And God didn’t put us here to wander. He’s given us a purpose and a unique identity in Him. So I am the best. Whether the world around me wants to acknowledge that or not. I am the best me there is. I’m not perfect, but I’m growing and changing and sometimes that is painful.

But even if the world around me cannot convince me of my worth, this should: Jesus died so I could have a relationship with Him. He is my best friend and the only one who can really validate my existence. I may not see the impact or have a Clarence to show me, but I can trust the keeper of the stars to let me know when the time is right, that my life, even the low points, were still used by Him for His glory.

 

 

 

Fact or Fiction? Coy: Out to Change the World

This story is a work of fiction.  Any likeness to a real person is intended and only for fun.

Coy was not young anymore but she was thin and fit and her straight blonde hair shimmered with health. Her eyes sparkled as she logged into her laptop from her home office.  What seemed like a dreary thing, checking in on her students, today seemed to take on more significance.

She looked at her computer screen and felt herself sucked into Facebook.  Yes, it was a time waster and Farmville definitely was an addiction for her, but helped her pass the time when she couldn’t sleep at night. The shifting lights as she seemed to become absorbed into her laptop and travel the World Wide Web was a bit confusing and overwhelming all at the same time.

Maybe there was something strange in her coffee?  Or was she in some bizarre dream?  Coy seemed suddenly able to travel into the pages and enter the worlds of some of her students in class and found herself amazed at what she discovered.  First of all, it was no longer 2010 – but many years in the future if the profile pics and information on the pages were any indication.

For instance, there was Andy.  The paper he had just submitted showed a sharp mind.  Coy often pondered his insecurities when he talked in class.  She had been seeking to encourage him. She was surprised to he had graduated with honors and was now a father of two and held a good job at a promising company.  Had she possibly helped him toward that?  Something in her spirit said, Yes!  She smiled.

She was sucked into another page and saw Sharon. In class this woman was young and full of energy and ideas, but a bit scattered.  Coy wondered what this young woman would do with her passion if it were a bit more focused.  Looking at her information page, Coy discovered that since graduating, Sharon had started her own not-for-profit company and was having an impact on the poor in her community.  According to the comments posted on her page it looked like Sharon had managed to corral some of those ideas and was quite successful and even recently engaged to be married.  Did anything that Coy had taught or invested in this woman help her to get to where she was today?  Most likely.

Coy was sucked back to the present and shook her head, a little dizzy, and sighed as her puppy came to lick her hand, begging to be petted. Maybe she was making a difference in the lives of those she was teaching and through them impacting the world in a positive way.  Maybe, just maybe she was modeling and encouraging her students just enough to make that mild shift that took them on a course they might have otherwise missed if they had not walked into her classroom.

It was then that her dog spoke up to chide her in her feelings of insignificance: “Hey!”

Coy was startled, “Who is that?”

“It’s me, your dog.  You would make a difference in my life if you let me go out to use the yard to do my ‘job’.” 

Coy smiled and rose to let her dog out, and gazing into the sunshine felt encouraged that every little thing she did, as a mom, a wife, a friend and a teacher, (and a pet owner) really truly could be used for things far greater than what she could see right now. 

Time to get back to emailing those students who were late turning in their assignments last night.  Coy had a job to do and she wasn’t going to let them down.