Making a Real Difference
There is deep spiritual power in knowing we are making a real difference. We want to know we will be remembered for our positive contributions.
People struggle within themselves, desperately seeking the path for their lives. We desire assurance, certainty we help make the world a better place.
Some of us who have been very successful at one thing refocus our efforts on solving problems. Each of us sees the most pressing, most significant challenges in our own way.
We may be moved by people fleeing from injustice and oppression, or people in need of fresh water. Some of us see solutions in incredible new technology, or in exploring other planets. There are people who believe our biggest problem is a changing climate, or new sources of energy. Some are motivated to resolve conflicts, between individuals or nations, or to put people to work.
Some of us desire to recapture or preserve the past. Others reach into the future.
How do we choose? Where will we focus our attention and efforts? What does a real difference look like, and how will we make one?
Choosing for Ourselves
The direct answer is we get to choose for ourselves. There is no one who can tell us where it is most important for us to make a difference. There is no book, no mentor, no expert who can give us the answer for us.
We listen to other people’s stories and draw wisdom from their experience. We learn lessons, and we may repeat some of their mistakes. It helps to gather as much information as we can and reflect on it, drawing out truth.
Our search is not an exclusively analytical process. It helps to think things through, but wisdom also requires reflection. This is a spiritual and emotional process as well as an intellectual one. We do not seek the right answer, but the one which fits for us.
We may not be choosing our difference as much as our difference is choosing us.
Some people know the moment their choice presents itself. For others, choosing is a long, complex, organic process. There are people who only recognize the difference they have made as they look back over their lives.
Is That Your Final Answer?
Seeking ways to make a real difference is not a path with a well defined beginning and ending. We look for ways to make a positive contribution and are drawn further down our path. The changes people need are related and interconnected. There is no one overwhelming choice.
Searching takes time and effort, flexibility and patience. It is unlikely we will find the one most significant difference to make, once and for all. Beginning to make one change brings other steps to light. Over time our eyes are opened and we see what is possible.
What differences do you have the potential to make?
How will you contribute this week to a positive future?
The challenge is not only finding the difference we are drawn to make. There is no one right way to change the world, no one problem we need to fix. In the same way, there is no single grand gesture we need to make.
Making a real difference in the world is a matter of how we spend each day.
We live in a time when we are inundated with distractions. Even when we have committed ourselves to making a difference, there are so many other things to do.
It is easy to be confused and overwhelmed by all the ways we can spend our time each day. We have responsibilities to our selves, to our families, to our work. There is physical health, emotional health, financial health to consider. How will we meet all our commitments and maintain a balanced life? When will we find time to rest?
Beginning With the Basics
It often feels like we are being pulled in opposite directions. There are so many things which need to be done, demands outweigh the time we have. The needs are so great, how can we possibly make any real difference?
We need to remember this is a spiritual as well as an intellectual and emotional process. The differences we are seeking to bring into the world begin with differences within ourselves.
Our work is not only making specific changes in the world, but helping make the world more reflective. We model the changes we hope to see through our actions, our behavior.
Our desire is for people to become more reflective, so we take time for reflection ourselves.
Actions which make a real difference grow out of reflection. Contemplation is fed by our experiences. Meaningful, intentional changes flow from consideration and stillness.
One Stone at a Time
We are building a wall we hope will hold itself up, one stone at a time. The placement of each stone will determine the strength of the entire wall.
Together we examine all the stones each of us has brought. Some of them have rough edges which need to become smooth to fit together well. We begin from the bottom, finding the balance which will hold them together. One stone at a time, we work to build a strong wall.
We are not merely building a wall. Reflecting on the stones we have put into place, and the stones we have left, teaches us. We find lessons in the stones, and in the spaces between them. The stones fit into the wall create spaces for us to fill and opportunities to learn.
Day after day a wall rises from the ground. We gathered together stones, which were obstacles elsewhere, to work together in our wall.
We pause to take breath and survey what we have done. One more day spent wisely can make a real difference.
How will your reflection fuel the fire of your intentional actions this week?
Where do you find the balance of contemplation and mobilization?
[Image by in the company of stone]