I’ve been in Southern California this week, guiltily enjoying a week of vacation while Sara is at home with Lylah, both of them sick.
I’m out here to start the class work for my doctorate at Fuller next week, but I came out a week early to go to one of my good friend’s weddings. It seemed foolish to fly back to Iowa just to fly back out to California a week later.
So in the meantime, I’ve been meeting up with old friends from as far back as elementary school. I haven’t seen some of these friends since 1998 when I moved.
We’ve had a ton of fun, sharing meals, drinks, and stories together. As we’ve done this, I’ve been amazed at what details we remember about each other and what sorts of things we forget.
One of my friends remembered how my dad came into our science class in 4th grade and in 8th grade, giving demonstrations of light and the electromagnetic spectrum, using equipment from his work.
My friend always thought it was so cool to see what my dad would teach. He thought it was even cooler, still, that my dad still works for Lawrence Livermore Lab, still on the same project, even.
I thought about this after hanging out with my friends and I started doing some math. Many of the memories my friends had of me were over fifteen years old, some more than twenty. Any many of them weren’t memories of the most significant events. Many of them came from everyday life, yet they lingered in our memories, impacting us in subtle ways.
I doubt that when I was seven years old, playing with my friends, I thought that my actions would be remembered over twenty years later. I doubt that much of what I did at that age seemed significant.
Yet, here I am, twenty years later, in the same town I was then, contemplating the impact of what I did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say all those years ago.
We might not ever discover the impact of our actions. In the rare case when we are lucky enough to meet up with people year later, we might discover how we were remembered. But more often than not, but don’t get that privilege. Instead, we do the best we can in particular situation and hope that we made a difference.
It’s easy for me to despair and sometimes think that interactions I have make no difference in others’ lives. It’s easy to assume that since I don’t see the change that happens in somebody, they weren’t impacted.
But sometimes it takes years for our actions and our words to impact others. Sometimes we don’t discover that impact until years later. Sometimes we don’t find out at all.
You might be discouraged because you don’t see an immediate impact in what you do. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you’re called to do.
To quote Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
What keeps you going when you feel as though you aren’t making an impact?