At times in our lives, we can feel that our influence on the world around us seems irrelevant. That our mere presence is insignificant and pointless. That making a difference is for someone else.
When we wonder if our purpose is greater than getting through one day just to hurry to get the next and so on.
Ever had a day like that?
Maybe even days like that?
Last week on my Facebook page, I shared a little about a day that would seem like any other and instead affected me in such a way that I will forever be changed by it. To read more, click here.
It was a stark reminder of the moments we have in life and how we are moved by them in ways we never even imagined.
Yesterday, I stopped in to see my friend at work and in doing so, I also chatted with one of her co-workers as well. This young lady does not know me very well, but she knows me enough to know my name and what I do for a job. As she readies herself for the next phase of her life with high school graduation just around the corner, I told her, “Never forget who you are.”
This morning, I wondered to myself…what happens if she doesn’t know who she is yet?
When will she know?
What does she do when she asks herself that question and cannot find an answer? An answer that makes sense? One she can live with and use to define herself?
As the years go by, I know she will eventually find her answer and it may not look like she thought it would. It may be hard to describe at first, but in the end, she will always know.
So, I thought of something better I should have said to her…
I should have said, “What kind of difference do you want to make?”
Maybe she doesn’t yet have an answer to even this question, but in some ways, answering this question would in effect, answer the one about who she is as well.
Growing up, I couldn’t have defined who I was and even at 18, I still couldn’t tell you. It was easier for me to tell you who I wasn’t.
Maybe that’s what I really needed to know and how those simple attributes would never explain me, regardless of my age or the journey I would take.
Maybe even then, I couldn’t have answered even the second question either.
But today, I had one of those moments when something little, something that I could have ignored became something special to someone else. All because I chose to be vested.
One my son’s 2nd grade teacher is heading into a new adventure as she leaves our neighborhood school to teach at a school where her kids will attend in the fall. I could have driven by the school even after I saw her in the parking lot. I could have never called her name as she was heading back into the building. I could have never told her the impact she continues to make on our middle son and the life he lives to this day. I thanked her for believing in him and giving him the courage to be himself, especially at a time when he was not your typical second grader.
As the tears fell from her eyes, I got out of my car and gave her a very heartfelt hug and reminded her of why she is so great at what she does…because she makes a difference in the lives of her students.
At the time, I didn’t know that she was feeling unappreciated and heartbroken that, after 17 years, there wasn’t even a “thank you” headed in her direction. But she shared that with me, too. I have known her for many years and knowing her passion for teaching and her students, I have no doubt that her new school will be blessed with her presence just as my son was when she was his teacher.
As I dried my tears and drove away, it hit me.
That was a moment that might have never happened.
Just like the day before when I visited with this beautiful young 18-year-old woman who was getting ready for the next chapter in her life.
I could have remained silent.
I could have pretended it didn’t matter.
I could have told myself a lie that would later manifest itself in a regret.
Making a difference doesn’t begin with something large or expensive. In fact, most often, it is the smallest of things that remain permanently etched in our hearts.
No matter who we are or where we come from, life will bring us moments. Moments to influence other moments. Moments that are meaningful. Moments to be remembered. Moments that connect us to another human being, even for a short amount of time. Moments that quickly fade into a memory.
Doing something with those moments every day in our lives is makes a difference…not just in the lives of others, but in our lives as well.
Michelle A. Homme 2016 ©