Knowing that Someone Notices

How much we impact others is always difficult to measure.  Mark Twain once quipped that he could “live for two months on a good compliment.”  There are people I can remember from twenty years ago that I only met once, yet there was that one thing they said that sticks out in my mind, words that left an impression on me, and they probably don’t even remember the conversation.  When my seniors graduate, I give them five piece of advice to help them in their life.  Of the five, one is “People remember the smallest things, and for them that may be the most significant thing.”  I use it as a means to show how our impact is often larger than we think it is, how the smallest action or word can stick with a person for a lifetime, despite how insignificant you might think it is.  For example, I can remember one church youth group member of mine who, when I asked him why he decided to come to youth group for the last year, told me that it was because the first time he came, I said hello to him.  I couldn’t believe that such a small gesture, one I didn’t even remember, could make such an impact, but it was that feeling of acknowledgement that compelled him to stay.  Similarly, I recently reached out to two people I knew were going through a rough time, people I don’t usually talk to who crossed my mind, just to let them know that I was thinking about them.  I thought I’d take the chance with what I deemed a small gesture.  However, the response went on and on about how much it meant to them, that someone was thinking about them.  I later learned that there was very little keeping one of these two in the world, and my call may have been the only thing that kept him in this world a little longer.  Here, acknowledgement translated to encouragement.  Lifting each other up as Christians is a direct command from the Bible, as 1 Thessalonians 5.11 writes: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  This directive indicates a need among us to continuously do so, to be compassionate, to empathize, and to encourage.  I knew what it felt like when it feels as if no one cares, hence I made that call to help them feel a little less alone.  It took thirty seconds, yet those seconds of acknowledgement matter in years to those people.  There are countless numbers of people who walk around us thinking that no one cares about them, that most wouldn’t notice if they were suddenly wiped off the face of the earth.  As Christians, we have the obligation and the power to reach out to those who feel that way, and most often all it takes is an acknowledgement.  When I see my students grappling with difficult times, just asking if they are okay is often times enough to help them feel better.  They usually don’t even share what they are going through, but just the knowledge that someone noticed is often times enough for them.  God is revealing these people in need to us, sometimes right in front of us and other times in the form of a passing thought.  Our job is to act, letting these people know that we noticed them and that they matter.  This week, when someone crosses your mind or path, take it as a sign to reach out and let that person know that you noticed and were thinking about him or her.  It may be just the message that keeps them going.  Amen.

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