Small Acts of Grace, Big Impact
“Could you imagine what the world would be like if people strived to be loving and giving first and successful second? That would be a world changer.We are getting lost in the pursuit of happiness. The goal line keeps shifting. Then we get annoyed and frustrated. Competition makes us concentrate on our individual needs instead of helping others.”
pages 110-111, The Promise, by Darlene Gudrie Butts
I just finished reading Hannah’s Gift, by Maria Houson and The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe back to back. There were reserved at the library weeks apart but showed up together. They are both about an ordinary life lived with extraordinary impact, one spanning three years and the other seventy-five, but shared the common themes of making that life count, being true to oneself, and that the life of dying can sometimes be a gift in and of itself.
When the same message comes from different sources, I listen. The stirring of desire to make a difference first came after the standing room only service for my sister Deb and the stories shared afterward. With a flair for the dramatic, I wanted a world-wide impact. Go big or stay home. And, I do not admit freely or without shame, I wanted to be recognized and rewarded for my efforts. I wanted to be the best philanthropist ever. Now isn’t that a new definition of charity.
These books made a case for small, one-on-one, unprepared, unrehearsed, and unheralded, acts of grace, generosity of spirit, shared kindness that made a life count, the same type of life reflected in the shared memories of my sister. Success wasn’t about income, awards, or recognition. It was about loving, respecting, recognizing others. It was about moments whose effects would never be known. It was about anonymity by nature, not by plan. It was about love spilling over to others without measurement or record. Will Schwalbe was often annoyed that his mother talked to everyone, always. He came to realize that this was her ministry, her gift to the world. Hannah’s refusal to take off her red patent leather shoes, even in the operating room, changed hospital protocol because it made the medical staff realize that young patients need to be treated with same respect and regard as adult patients. Small, unrehearsed, meaningful interactions.
The excerpt from The Promise above comes from a conversation about how one would want to be remembered when they die versus how they want to be viewed as they live their life. Although I hope to have some mortal achievements to banter about long after I am gone, the unmeasured and unrecorded acts of love and grace will truly be my greatest accomplishments.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.John 13:34And let us not be weary in doing good:
Galatians 6:9And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:13
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22