“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” ~Mother Teresa
Life is complicated. The world’s problems are extremely complex. But what if you could help solve the world’s problems? What if you were a world changer?
Seems rather daunting, doesn’t it? Me? Change the world?! I used to feel like an ostrich, burying my head in the sand and trying to ignore all the hurt and evil in the world, because I felt helpless, like there wasn’t anything I could do.
I didn’t always feel that way though. There was a time when I felt I could make a difference…
Four months before my grandmother died, I sat by her bedside, holding her hand, and we had what turned out to be the last real conversation we had together on this earth. She looked at me and said, “I always wished I had done something great in this world.”
I told her that she had done something great! She had raised five wonderful children. She had helped and influenced so many for good during her life.
As I said those words to her, I truly believed them. I knew that by simply living a good, honest life and being kind to those around her, she had had a huge impact on the world. She had had a huge impact on me.
Yet somehow, fourteen years later, I realized I had fallen into that same trap.
I found myself thinking I wasn’t doing anything significant or worthwhile in this world because I wasn’t working in refugee camps or stopping genocides. I felt that I wasn’t “changing the world” because I hadn’t done something “major” to help the world.
Do you feel the same way? Are you discounting the work you are doing within your home and family, within your community of friends, within your neighborhood? Are you forgetting the impact that your everyday acts of service and love can make?
I used to think “changing the world” consisted only of really big sweeping movements that made lasting change the world over.
I would think of actions worthy of being written in the history books. I would think of Mother Teresa creating the Missionaries of Charity and caring for thousands upon thousands of the destitute in Calcutta. I would think of rebuilding a city after a natural disaster.
Although these examples do indeed change the world, when you really get down to it, to “change the world” means to make a change to better one person’s world. By helping one person feel special, loved, and important, you are changing the world for one individual at a time.
It reminds me of a time, years ago, that I was sitting in my car at a gas station. I cannot tell you what my day was like before this moment or after, but as I sat there, a man walked by with a big smile on his face. He didn’t look at me or even see me, but he changed my life.
A true, genuine smile is contagious, it spreads to all who observe it, and that’s what happened that day. His smile spread to me and I was uplifted. Over a decade later, I still think about that incident and try to intentionally smile as I go about my day.
Mother Teresa cared for thousands over the years, but she cared for and loved one individual at a time. She said, “There are no great deeds. Only small deeds done with great love.”