While I have partaken in the recent wave of ALS Ice Bucket Challenges (www.alsa.org) , and while I am confused by the “controversy” that so many are talking about regarding this wave…..this post is not about that topic. Although, I will add, if you’re looking to donate to a worthy cause, ALS is one of them worth considering.
HOWEVER, this blog post is about “making a difference”, which has been a topic that has touched my life for a long time, though it has been rumbling around in my noggin a bit more lately. I have always wanted to “make a difference”, and that is the root of this post.
I think it’s fair to say most people want to make a difference in some way. I know that is true for me. I try to find ways to make a difference as I can; donate to good causes, pray for those in need, pay my taxes with a smile. You get the drift. At times these activities make me feel good about humanity, and good about myself. I imagine you can relate to that as well. But this week I had a revelation that pulled me beyond the normal “making a difference” ideas – we all make a difference, everyday, in almost every interaction we hold.
What? It’s true.
You see, we are not islands. We interact with people everywhere, throughout the day. And our very beings “make a difference” no matter if it is conscious or not. When we walk down the street, if we smile at someone walking the opposite direction, that smile can turn a horrible day into a sparkle of hope. I contend that NOT smiling to that person also has potential for altering that person’s day. When you get cutoff on the freeway, honk your horn and maybe flip a “sign”, you can make the other driver more angry and maybe even irrational (believe me, I can attest to that). When your flight is cancelled and you see a frazzled gate attendant trying to assist dozens of ticked off travelers in addition to you (and if that “you” is me, chances are cranky is accurate), a kind word can go a long way and make them persevere just a bit longer. When a young mother is struggling to get through a door with a massive stroller, your inaction in assisting or action in assisting both make a difference in her day. We make differences, all day, everyday.
I hope I – and maybe you – can move away from the idea that “making a difference” is exclusively making donations, or quitting jobs to “join the ministry” or doing something huge. Not to say those are actions don’t make a difference; they do! Making a difference is more vast than these noble acts. And making differences are good and bad. My goal is to make POSITIVE differences, but fully admit that is not always the case. But I have challenged myself to notice humanity around me. Notice that humans that I may dislike or that may cause me frustration or that honestly are easier not to notice in the first place are worthy for me to make a difference on behalf of. To notice things when I am knee deep in situations of my own, stressful or huge or serious…..it doesn’t matter! We humans are in this together and my issues don’t trump others around me, per se. To admit that simple gestures such as smiles, or courtesy, can make huge differences for others. That “loving your neighbor” is not exclusively a huge outpouring in action, but finds its strength in the mundane. And really, “making a difference” should be more about “loving your neighbor” than about us. And believe me, when it is about me I can attest I am more often making a NEGATIVE difference than anything else. So, for me, I am approaching the idea of “making a difference”, differently. And, no matter what I may be going through today or tomorrow, this brings me great excitement. I hope it is contagious!