Last week I wrote about influence and how much our small impact on someone can have in ways we never imagined or may ever know.
As I continued to reflect on those thoughts this week, I wanted to share a couple more things that are pressing on my heart related to influence and our contribution to the world around us.
We lost an iconic sports legend in a tragic accident recently. As the news spread like wildfire across all forms of media of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his precious daughter, the tributes began pouring in. He was an amazing dad and a wonderful role model who deserves all of the attention the story is getting, but I couldn’t help but think about the other seven people who also perished in the accident. People whose names we didn’t recognize because their platform wasn’t public. The grief of their families and friends is no less because we didn’t all know their names. Their impact on people doesn’t matter less because it wasn’t covered on ESPN. The same is true of all of us…..we have people who would never be the same if we became absent from their lives tomorrow, because we matter so much to them.
I had the privilege of having dinner with my husband and our two young adults a couple of weekends ago. Just the four of us, which is a rare occurrence at this stage of life because we tend to go in different directions and they no longer live under our roof. I was so joyful having them all to myself, even if just for an hour or two. As I sat across from our children in the restaurant booth and listened to them share about their lives, my heart was incredibly full of love and admiration, as well as some amount of pride if I’m being honest.
(I am sure many of you moms can relate with me as you think about those times that you look at your children and think, “wow, how did I get to be their mother?” Not to say there aren’t also many times that I think “wow….being their mother is HARD!" Even in light of the tough times, being a mom has been one of the greatest blessings of my life and I’ll never get over how grateful I am that God allowed me to bring my two children into the world.)
But, as quickly as the swell of pride came over me, my next thought was “are we out of time and did we do enough?” I am keenly aware that at this stage of their lives, our opportunity for day to day influence has passed. Their influences come more from outside of our home than inside much of the time. Knowing this is the case raises a lot of questions for me.
“Have we taught them what really matters in life? Do they know how much they are loved first by God and then by us as their parents? Have we given them the tools to make good decisions or to choose wisely their career paths or their spouses? Do they know that the most fulfilling things in life come when we give back to others? Have we been Godly influences on them?” In that moment, I was filled with angst and uncertainty and I prayed what I often do, “Lord, make up the difference.”
I realize that these two illustrations might seem random and not obviously connected to each other, so let me try to make some sense of my thought process.
Whether you are a name that is recognized anywhere outside of your own home and family or not, you have people who love you and need you greatly and you don’t have forever. No one does. We all eventually run out of time. Living intentionally is incredibly important. What would intentional living look like in your life?
As I reflected on that question, I had a list within minutes. For me, it means starting with putting my phone down and being less concerned about what the celebrities that I follow think about things than hearing the thoughts and convictions of people I know and love. It probably means spending more time with the people in my small group at church and coming alongside them in accountability to one another. It might mean championing my co-workers and reminding them that we are all on a mission field each day and that what we are doing matters to someone, even when we don’t see it or even feel it. It would involve smiling at strangers and going through my day in less of a hurry with more intention to notice those around me who might need a helping hand. It means opening my mind and heart to see that not all of us have the same experiences and as a result we won’t always see the world in the same way. And that is just the beginning.
For each of us, “intentional” likely looks different. I encourage you to pray about what yours might look like.
Every single day there are people grieving the loss of someone they love. If you’ve ever had a loss, you’ve likely experienced that feeling of seeing the world continue to turn around you when you just want to scream “stop!” at the top of your lungs because your world will never be the same. The same will be true when your life comes to an end.....you are so very important to someone. But, if we’re not careful, the enemy steals our entire lives by stealing one moment at a time. Take back your moments….they all matter….and so do you.