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Waves, like fluid erasers, remove our imprints from the sand, dissolving them into the sea, and dismissing we ever stepped upon its granular shore. 

53532476_362438387694967_8287644696239407104_nWe just returned from a vacation in the Bahamas. One of my favourite parts of a mid-winter vacation to a warm location is taking walks along the beach. I soak in the sound of the waves unfolding onto the shore, absorb the sun’s warmth on my shoulders, enjoy the feel of the sand between my toes, and glimpse back at our footprints in the sand.

I found myself comparing the impressions we leave in the sand—so quickly swallowed by sea—to the impressions we will leave behind in the places we travel in this life. What kind of mark will we leave on this earth, particularly on other’s lives? Will it be quickly dissolved, or will our actions and words leave a lasting impression? If lasting, will they be impressions of bold beauty or petrified ugliness?

With a limited number of steps, we travel here and there making many deliberate choices that form a lifetime. As sojourners, will we leave people better than we found them, or will we be as litter strewn on the shores of their lives? How will we use what we’ve been given to make a lasting difference? Will we impress upon the lives of others beauty, truth, dignity, and love, or will we scatter indents of useless or destructive debris.

With God’s help and guidance, we can walk across neighbouring shores in humility, with gentleness, kindness, and patience, while offering mercy, comfort, and generous quantities of compassion. In this way, we leave imprints of peace, joy and love, by any means that we’ve been given, upon other’s lives.

We set aside our own wounding and bitterness—from others thoughtless impressions—and receive the healing waters that dissolve those unsightly marks. The watery waves of God’s love soften our sandy shores and prepare them to collect prints of beauty once again. And afterwards, we bravely step out to do the same for others.

Our lives are lived on purpose and with a purpose. No act of kindness or gentle encouragement, however small, is wasted. With each step, we can press beauty into all we touch and leave this place, and others, positively altered. Make no mistake, you will leave an impact. Choose well the nature of its composition.

It’s my hope that you and I would be ever-aware of the brevity of our lives, and spend each day wisely and purposely, creating beauty wherever we tread.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~Psalm 90:12

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A precious offering from a student: a reminder of the little hands I held and also helped teach how to print their names.

This past Tuesday, I spent my last day in the kindergarten class. At the end of the day, just before nineteen little humans trundled off for home, I was inundated with colourful masterpieces and priceless hugs. Working to hold back tears, I received their affectionate gestures. The teacher commented on the impact I’d made after being in the class just over a month and added, what if it had been a full year as he had hoped.

It begs the question: what about an entire lifetime?

Within such a lifetime – composed of one day piling on top of another – there exists the opportunity to make a day-by-day, moment-by-moment difference. Some of those difference-making impacts will be the result of a cognitive choice or disciplined action, but there will be many that won’t. Some impacts will occur without you giving them a second thought; the mere result of you being a living, breathing human with the potential to leave an imprint on other human beings, for better or for worse.

I think to myself, what sort of impact am I making? Am I helping or hindering those around me to be the best versions of themselves? Do my words and actions encourage and build others up, or tear them down? Am I using my resources, including my time, finances, skills, and gifts to make a difference, or am I selfishly expending them only on my personal comfort?

Some may not think it matters, but I prefer to think it does. As a child, whenever we visited somewhere, my mom used to instruct us to leave it better than when we arrived. I think that applies to people as well as places. We can leave a person better than we found them. Our exchanges, no matter how small, can leave a positive or negative impact. The ability to shift the atmosphere is ever at our disposal.

It’s easy to grumble about poor service, complain about a coworker to another, treat a server poorly, or lose it entirely. But how much greater is a simple smile, a kind word of encouragement, a well-placed compliment, a small offer of help, a show of affection, or an extension of forgiveness. All of these can make all the difference. You won’t often know the mountains another is scaling in the midst of climbing your own, but at every handhold there exists the opportunity to make that assent just a little kinder and more manageable.

Beyond all this, there’s the impact in eternity, which, though temporarily invisible, will one day be all there is left, and all that matters. Not that we do these things for gold stars. We do them out of the outflow of love and forgiveness that we each have the opportunity to receive and extend. But make no mistake, everything, whether seen or unseen, applauded or ignored, matters.

I’ll leave this last thought: Be the person your dog thinks you are, the person your family wishes you were, and the person God made you to be!

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

~ Luke 8:17

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  1. In what ways are you leaving people better than you found them? In what ways could you stand to improve?
  2. Look for opportunities this week to make a difference.

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