I'll be honest- for every one person I've helped, maybe there's been 3 people I've annoyed? Hopefully the 3 will forgive me and move on and as I become more wise and self-aware it will be less.... But it's kind of like that Starfish analogy-
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied," I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference." The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied
"Made a difference to that one"
There have been a couple of circumstances in my life and even some this year- where I have had the privilege of finding out something I did or said actually had life-changing consequences for someone else. In the interest of privacy, I won't share all the specifics, but just some things to trigger a memory and awareness of your own- what a difference you can make.
I convinced someone long ago with a late night conversation in a language that wasn't even my own to stay in veterinary school. After she graduated, she wrote me and said, "Thanks for talking to me and telling me to hang in there."
Providing reference letters and mentorship to other people, just like others have done for me and even providing a reference for someone to retain custody of their child.
Instead of hurrying through a transaction, stopping to answer someone's question about enrolling in school and sending them to a place where they could have a job that would not only give them experience but would pay for school. This was an interaction I didn't think much of until later when their new employer thanked me for sending them a great candidate.
More often than I admit to myself, I sometimes feel an inner pull to do something or say something- sometimes I'm off on my intuition, but sometimes it is exactly the right moment and both myself and the other person believe it's a "God-incidence" instead of "coincidence". So this year, I vow to listen to my inner voice, take more time to slow down and reach out to others and be less efficient for my needs and more giving to others.
Hello- 2017, Goodbye "efficiency" and maybe someday I'll get to see some other consequences of my actions and I will continue to pray that I will bear fruit for "Him who strengthens me".
If God replayed your life and the consequences of your actions, what would you see?