Monday, February 9

Making a Difference

A few days ago I overheard a group of women discuss whether or not their simple acts of kindness were making a difference. The majority seemed to think their benevolent words and tokens of friendship had little or no impact on the group they were trying to influence. As evidence they threw out a couple of statistics that they felt substantiated their point. Almost as an aside, someone noted they really hadn’t been trying all that long, while another lamented she didn’t think it was worth her time to continue.

I was late for an appointment and thus in no position to stay and comment. As I drove away, however, I pondered their question. Many times I have desired to evoke a lasting difference in someone’s life. I’ve followed intuition and spirit and sometimes gone to great lengths to change circumstances, often with no tangible results. Did that mean I failed?

I thought back to my childhood, to simple acts of kindness expressed on my behalf: in second grade the invitation of a dark-haired little girl named Leeanne to walk with her to an event that I felt awkward attending by myself, the praise of a thoughtful teacher when I tried my best but felt I had fallen short. And, in my teen years, the friendship of those who took the time to help me through struggles. I was surprised how clearly I remembered the feelings evoked by each occurrence, and amazed that I had carried the impressions of goodwill with me throughout my life.

Maya Angelou wrote, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I didn’t remember the exact words of the little girl from second grade, or the teacher, and I didn’t remember all the kind acts of friends. But the special way they made me feel is forever imprinted on my heart.

So back to the question of whether simple acts of kindness make any difference, especially if the recipient never expresses any sort of sentiment in return. I have to believe the answer is yes. If our efforts are sincere, our concern and goodwill real and not manufactured, something in our spirit must surely touch theirs. Maybe it will only remain a seed they will tuck away until years later. But perhaps when there is a rainy day that seed will blossom and they will reflect on our actions and feel the goodwill we long ago attempted to plant.

That is what I choose to believe.


Aubrey said...

What an awesome post, Lori! I think we all need a reminder that our efforts are not in vain, and we never know who is watching or how we might unknowingly touch their lives.

Lori Nawyn said...

Thank you, Aubrey. My life has been touched in myriad ways by people who likely never knew they were an influence for the better in my life. I pray I can live up to the examples of strength and goodness I much admire in others.

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