Monday, November 30, 2009

Everyone Makes a Difference

A few days ago, my Mom sent me this link. It's a video about what can happen when you make a conscious effort to tell others that they make a difference in your life. Although there's no way to verify whether the story the video chronicles is really true, I have no trouble believing that something like that could happen. Coming right out and telling people in plain language that they make a difference in the world and in your life can be a powerful experience for both parties. I know this from personal experience. I have felt the crushing weight of self-doubt and isolation lift from my shoulders because someone I loved told me I really do make a difference. I have also seen how powerfully others have been moved when I passed on this message to them.

The truth is that everyone can make a difference. As a Christian, I'm charged with not only making a difference myself, but also noticing and affirming the contributions of those around me. Most of the time we can't see all the ways in which our efforts change the world around us. We don't necessarily know when our work is appreciated or when we brighten up someone's day, and in the absence of feedback, it can be easy to assume that we aren't making a difference at all. Part of being Christian is trusting in God and letting Him ease those fears in our hearts, but God has also given us the gift of community to help give us confidence. We're supposed to outwardly affirm and encourage each other, to be allies against self-doubt. It's possible to keep believing in myself without any input from others, but it's much easier when I've got people telling me that they've noticed and appreciated my efforts. So I want to be sure to give that extra self-esteem boost to those around me as well.

It can be so hard to feel like we make a difference when we spend all of our time in such a big world surrounded by so much corruption. Still, even if the impact we make is small and local, it still matters a great deal to the people who benefit from our efforts. The fact that my husband is a wonderful and caring partner is going to be very important to me whether or not he ever makes huge contributions to bettering the greater world. The little seemingly unimportant things he does for me every day shape my life in profound ways, so no matter what else he does, he can know he makes a huge difference in my life. Each of us has people who do little things that matter a lot to us, so it's important for us to take the time to let them know. A little affirmation goes a long way.

I don't know everyone who is reading this blog, but I am confident that all of you make a difference. I also know that there are people in your lives who care about you and appreciate the contributions you make, even if you can't see it. If you're feeling alone or frustrated, I encourage you to look for the small successes all around you. When you start noticing the ways that others impact your life, you will understand how much your own actions matter to others. Make an effort to tell others how they make a difference, and you'll start to feel that you matter more, too. It's worked for me. The more I notice the good in the people around me, the more I notice the good in myself as well. Love begets love, and loving others can help us love ourselves. So go out today and tell someone that they make a difference. I know that you make a difference, and so do I.

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