As I’ve been reflecting this past week on all that seems to be going on around us, what is it any of us can do to make a difference?
The Covid pandemic continues to rage, causing us to live life differently than we have before, and making it inconvenient to do a lot of things we are used to. We have to mask, we have to socially distance, we have to constantly be vigilant about sanitizing what we touch, how we touch one another, how we express kindness and love. We see our healthcare workers stretched and stressed beyond the breaking point. We see racism and division continuing to rear its ugly head. We see those who live on the margins of life, having to exist in even more precarious circumstances. We hear the economy is doing great, we hear its teetering on a downturn. We hear news, fake news, facts, alternative facts. How are we supposed to react to all of this? How can we make a difference when what we see, hear, and experience is almost overwhelming?
If you are a caring person, and I happen to believe that description fits all of us, you want to do something to change what you see before you which you know is not how it should be. But where do we start? What can we, as one person, do? Whatever meager attempts we make may feel like nothing as it relates to the magnitude of wrong we see.
You’ve no doubt heard the story about the person who was walking along the beach. Another person was walking toward them and sees them continue to bend down and throw something on the beach into the ocean. As the two approach one another, the one who observed the other bending and throwing, saw what was happening. The person was picking up starfish who had been washed up on the beach and throwing them back into the ocean. The observer said, “what are you doing?” The person exclaims, “I’m saving the starfish stranded on the beach.” The observer says, “look around at all these starfish, you can’t possibly make a difference.” The person smiles, as they toss yet another starfish into the ocean, and says, “I made a difference to that one.”
I know this story might sound trite or a little disconnected from reality. Its true though, we each have the power to make a difference in someone’s life. We each have the ability to make the world just a tiny bit better, even against all we see.
In my own experience, as an orphaned child, my adoptive parents made a huge difference in my life. I cannot even begin to assess how huge. They had no reason to take me in, other than I was an orphaned infant who needed someone. They took me in and loved me beyond measure. No, they weren’t perfect. Yes, they made plenty of mistakes. The one mistake they didn’t make was believing they couldn’t make a difference in the life of a child. I had the occasion recently to personally help two young people who were struggling financially. One of them said to me emphatically, “we will pay you back.” I told them, “no, you won’t.” What I hope you will do is when you’re able and you come across someone in need, you’ll remember, and pass on this kindness.” I’d love to take credit for being so altruistic and wise, but I’ve had too many kindnesses shown to me, and this was simply a paying back. Its not that I’m so good, but rather its that God is good and I’m trying very poorly to imitate God’s goodness.
We may get the feeling our presence doesn’t matter. We may believe we don’t have much to offer to the world around us. Nothing is further from the truth. We each can show kindness, compassion, understanding and love. These cost us nothing, but they can mean the world to someone who is in need. You and I can make a difference every day, if we allow ourselves to. If we begin to believe what we say, how we act, what we do matters, soon, very soon, it will matter. Others see you and me. Others observe what we do and say. Others take notice, and believe it or not, the difference we make spreads to them and many, many others.
You are here for a purpose, and your purpose is to make a difference by spreading God’s love in every place you possibly can. Go out, get busy, be the difference you are longing to see.
Blessings and Peace,