Have you ever heard the saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?
As I was watching the people around me at the post office today I got a new clarity on this old saying. Several of us waited in line. It wasn’t the busiest that I have seen it but it was hectic nonetheless. I watched and listened as the lady at the counter tried to explain to her customer the details of their transaction. Over and over she went line by line to explain her receipt but they couldn’t quite connect on what the other was saying. I got it and the man behind me did (I know this because he made sure we all did). I watched as the atmosphere shifted. Those in line talking and laughing got quiet, almost edgy. The lady in front of me went from smiling and chatting on her phone to frowning and muttering to herself. Shifting were we stood it was uncomfortable. Their interaction, their just being in the same room with the rest of us was, in that moment, effecting our day.
I myself have had days were I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Where I know before my feet hit the floor I was in a mood. I have snapped for no reason or just looked to be punchy and picky. I have had days were I wake up in an awesome mood to be met by a grouchy hubby or child. Days where I go to the store and get a less than pleasant clerk or listen to an argument between a mother and child. I have come home to a whirl wind of “Mom, he did…… ” or ” why did you do…. or say….. or…..”. Suddenly I am in the middle of something I didn’t create, have no idea how it started, nor do I care to. I go from being happy to being miserable in 0.2 seconds. Then sometimes suddenly I find that I put everyone else in the middle of my less than lovely attitude and everyone around me goes from being happy to being miserable in 0.2 seconds.
So as I stood in line today and watched these faces, these people and really looked at them, I realized they are just like me. They hurt the way I hurt, laugh the way I laugh. They get up and do today exactly what they had to do yesterday. They cry and mourn and get angry. They are happy and joyful and full of life. They ride the same emotions I ride and they struggle just like I struggle. I have said before to people “you have no idea what its like, you don’t know where I am or where I have been”. I have made excuses for my actions and I have justified them. I have impacted others lives by my words, my choices, by my just being in the same place at the same time as them, with my attitude, my nonverbs.
Today I watched as faces tightened and everyone shifted where they stood and I realized in that moment how we all leave ripples in each others lives. Every person we meet every single day. Good, bad or indifferent. Speaking or walking by in silence. Ignoring or mothering. Walking by or walking around to avoid. Approaching or brushing off. Listening or paying lip service. We make a mark. We get up, touch and impact the first life we see in an instant, right in our home. With our children, our husbands, our wives.
Think of the number of people you encounter in a day. (Doesn’t mean you talk to them with your words but your NONVERBS speak too)
If you encounter 20 people in a day with your words/actions/attitude, whether that is good, bad, happy, sad, negative, etc., and those 20 each encounter 20, imagine the ripple effect that is produced by just YOU??!!
My speaking kindly, softly, listening intently, opening a door, pushing a cart, helping with a project, taking out someones trash, buying a cup of coffee for the next car in line, stopping to help or share a smile all has an impact. Every thing I do and everything I say. Everything I don’t do and everything I don’t say. Everything leaves a ripple.
You can’t throw a stone in a pond without ripples. I might not think just minding my business will affect someone negatively. However, maybe that person is struggling with feeling invisible and unwanted.
As I walk on this journey I want the ripples I produce to be positive! I want to see others as God does. I want to be seen as He sees me. I want to not let what I am going through affect everyone around me. I want to not give room for my life to reflect fear, pain, doubt. I want to live a life of meaning, even when I am pumping gas, checking out at the grocery store, sitting at a PTA meeting, working concession at baseball. I want to not allow my frustrations to become someone elses problems. I want to no longer allow my impact to cause pain. I want to smile regardless of what is happening around me. I want to sympathise but not own. I want to relate but not change myself so I can identify. I want to make a difference, even in the small seemingly insignificant moments and encounters in my day. Each new day, each new step in each new right direction. The result will be a life of significance! A true success.
When it was my turn at the counter I was lucky enough to get the postal worker who had just had the altercation. I smiled and she was stern. I told her how much I appreciated that everytime I come in she is so helpful and tries to help me save a buck. I told her that I really appreciated that she cared and thanked her for the job she did. It was what I could offer. She smiled and said thank you!
“Every encounter we have, even if brief and seemingly unimportant, may have more significance than we know. A brief encounter may begin a greater ripple that reaches its intended purpose years later. Everyone who comes into our lives may be part of our mission, and we, a part of theirs. Understanding this can give meaning to the common events of life. By being positive and helpful towards others, even in casual moments, we can make the most of our time on earth.”
The Ripple Effect, p. 19