Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ripple Well

During the last couple months of 2014 I was feeling like I had lost something.  I noticed it affecting my work and I saw it in my distractions, lack of motivation, and generally fatigued countenance.  For the most part, I was the same as always.  I was upbeat in a group, I smiled at all of my patients and co-workers, and maintained my family life as usual.  I even laughed and went about my daily living as if nothing had happened.  But something did happen.  In early November, my entire world was shaken when I heard the news that one of my mentors was killed.  At 3:00 in the morning, word of her murder brought me to my knees and I could barely breathe.  My mind struggled to process what my eyes read in a message from a friend, and even now, several months later, I find it difficult to think about her.  The almost three month writing gap you see on my site is evidence of an internal struggle I faced in the wake of her death. When she would come to mind, I felt a pain that was unfamiliar and jagged.  My eyes would well with tears and I hurt. A lot. I would squeeze my eyes tightly shut and shake my head from side to side as if to forbid memories of her entry into my thoughts.  On the treadmill once, she refused to be denied access into my mind and I lost my breath and dropped to the ground in tears.  I gave myself those few moments, but something going on outside of me always demanded that I not linger on any emotional devastation.  I had to pull it together and keep going. But now...

Lahoma was so many things to countless people.  Among her numerous roles, she led the women's ministry, missions team, 413 Running Team, and Bible study at the church I used to attend and she taught me more about God, the Bible, and faith than anyone else ever has.  It was in these capacities that I came to know her, love her, and learn from her.  She was my role model for following Jesus and studying His Word and she helped me to find myself in Him.  My passion for the Bible was cultivated through her teachings and by her example I have since discovered my own leadership abilities.  I've thought about her often in the days since she passed, and one thing that stands out now is the brevity of life, not just hers but all lives, my own included. She was taken without warning, without preparation, and without planning.  As I've examined my feelings of shock over her death, I realize more intimately now than ever before just how suddenly things can change. The Bible tells us in Psalm 90:12 to "number our days," but what does this mean? The MacArthur Bible Commentary explains it as "evaluating the use of our time in light of the brevity of life."  (MacArthur, J. 2005).   In other words, how are you spending your time and what ripples are you sending out?  Don't assume that your time to leave this world is far off and therefore you can live selfishly and recklessly today. Are you drinking and drugging your time away?  Are you constantly berating your spouse? Are you walking around depressed and anxious?  Do you beat your children?  Are you feeling sorry for yourself over the hand life has dealt you? Or, are you depositing good seed into the lives of those around you?  Are you working towards a goal? Serving others in their time of need?  Pouring in love to the hurting? What do your days consist of? Spend some time thinking about what you're doing, saying, and even thinking because whatever it is, it's rippling out to the rest of the world around you and will comprise part of the legacy you leave behind. 

I led a bible study recently in which we discussed the ripple effect all individuals make through their actions and behavior.  For instance, in Genesis 3:6-7 we read about the fall of man through one couple's sin.  Because Adam and Even ate of the fruit that God commanded them not to eat, the stone of that disobedience created ongoing ripples into the vast sea of God's creation and we still feel the effects today.  We live in a fallen world where sin abounds and evil sometimes reigns, but there are ripples of goodness too, and we're all contributing to one or the other.  If you knew that the decision you were about to make was going to adversely impact people and create brokenness, would you still go in the same direction? Is the attractive co-worker worth the heartache that your loved ones will feel?  Is it worth possibly losing your children? What about that anger?  Is holding onto it really punishing the one who hurt you, or are you the one self-destructing?  Is the high today worth the lost time and hangover or come down tomorrow?  What you're doing, and what you're not doing matters.  It matters to God and it matters to those around you, but also to those who will come after you.  Ripple well.

Lahoma sent out some amazing ripples into the hearts of those close to her and many who never even personally met her.  I'm certain that the number of lives she touched, whether directly or indirectly, is too numerous to count, not to mention that her ripples are still ongoing into the lives of those who are yet to come behind her.  When I teach a bible study, for instance, it's by her example that I lead.  Those who show up never met her, but because she shined so brightly into my life, she touches them through me. She didn't just leave her mark in Tustin, California where she resided, but she went into all the world in fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and I can only imagine the heavenly rejoicing and gathering when she went home.  Thank you, Lahoma, for the ripples you made in my life.  May the ripples I leave touch others in the way yours have touched me.

"Rippling is the phenomenon of creating concentric circles of influence that may affect others for years, generations, interminably.  Without our conscious intent or knowledge, we leave behind something from our life experience, some trait, some piece of wisdom, act of virtue, guidance, or comfort that passes on to others much as the ripples caused by a pebble tossed into a pond go on and on until they are no longer visible but continue at a nano level...."  - Irvin Yalom

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Heather. Thank you for these words. I'm so sorry to hear of the tragic loss of your mentor. I can't imagine your heartache. Thank you for "rippling well" into my life all these years. Love you!