The idea that everything is purposeful really changes the way you live. To think that everything that you do has a ripple effect, that every word that you speak, every action that you make affects other people and the planet. ~Victoria Moran
“What difference does it make?!”
I’ve said that a lot lately.
What difference does it make if I don’t return that call? What difference does it make if I give that client 88% instead of 100%? What difference does it make if I finish that jar of almond butter… with a spoon? If I don’t check in with my partner tonight? If I finish off the bottle of wine? If I accept the friend request from an old beau? If I cancel coffee with a friend because I’m not feeling it? If I cut my workout short? If I miss church this year, err week? If I tell a white lie, if I hold back my feelings, if I call in sick to binge watch Netflix, if I ignore the lady at the grocery store with 3 kids who can’t afford everything on the belt? I’ve got so much going on, I don’t have time to call – I’ll text. Or better yet, I’ll add him to my “to do” list.
What difference does it make?
In the late 1960’s my father was the pastor of a church in the Boston ‘burbs. There were many young families but five were about the same age, raising young children, figuring it all out. They became friends through their shared faith, summered together at Camp-of-the-Woods, a Christian retreat, investing in each other. This month, by nothing more than chance, I connected with multiple generations of these families – ties that are sixty years in the making. In fact, three of these families passed through my parents home within ten days of each other and didn’t even know it.
I can write books about each family – about their influence on MY life, even though I came into the world a decade (or two) after they all met. They invested in me and it made all the difference.
Mary Ohman came to Gordon College to visit me freshman year and took me shopping. Herb Hess “anonymously” paid to repair my broken down Saab while I was driving to his wife’s funeral. Diana Bennett stayed up into the night to hem my skirt before a big event with my Boston firm.
A shirt, a repair, a hem – what difference does it make?
Investing in people. Serving people. Investing in generations. Serving for generations. It makes all the difference.
Towards the end of the Vietnam War a young officer named Al Shine was healing from his wounds and invested his family in my father’s church. A few years later, he was teaching at West Point and was one of the influences for my father taking the Chaplaincy there. Two decades later, Col. Shine was my brother’s ROTC Commander at Wheaton College. Now retired near the Army War College in Pennsylvania, we still run into people who have been influenced by him. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it Shine…”
A young minister and his family invested in people. They invested in people. Those people continue to invest in others.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate to participate in West Point Founders Day in Oklahoma City. My dinner guest and weekend host was Jody Shine, the next generation. Although we hadn’t seen each other in decades, not a day had passed. Do you have those friendships? Are you creating those legacy friendships now? Are you creating them for your children? Are you investing in them for your grandchildren?
At the Founders Day dinner, the “oldest grad” got up to speak. Class of 1969, he spoke of the trials of Vietnam and of the importance of family and friends. He mentioned his 19 classmates who died in war. Jody grabbed my hand. One of those 19 classmates that died was her Uncle Jonathan Shine – a pebble that continues to produce ripples 50 years after his death.
If you ever go or have gone to the Cadet Chapel at West Point, there is a perpetually burning candle on the right side to remember those who died in war. It’s the Jonathan Shine candle. If you’ve ever been a part of Officer Christian Fellowship, the Jonathan Shine award is given to the OCF President upon graduation. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it Shine…”
After the dinner in OKC, I introduced the gentleman that spoke to Jody and then left them to their remembrances and embraces. “They are here in ghostly assemblage. The men of the Corps long dead. And our hearts are standing attention, while we wait for their passing tread.”
After our weekend, when Jody dropped me off at the airport, just as I was getting out of the car she grabbed my hand and she prayed over me. She prayed for my safety, for my heart, for my family. She prayed that we will always be close. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it Shine…”
What would happen if we prayed not just for but over people? What would happen if, no matter where you are in your faith walk, we prayed over our friends? Our family? Our neighbors? Other than being a tad awkward at times, what difference would it make?
I propose investing in people for the long haul – not for the Memorial Day BBQ but for your children’s children, makes a difference.
I propose intentionally serving others, not as a side note but like you’re on a mission to CHANGE THE WORLD, makes a difference.
I propose intentionally putting God at the center of all relationships makes a difference.
We are all pebbles. How we live our lives on a daily basis will be reflected in the ripples we produce for generations. Remember that as you go about your daily life. Be the person of character now. Don’t wait.
It makes all the difference.
“Let it Shine, let it Shine, let it Shine.”
And Run to Win.