Make a Difference

I was watching Oprah the other day. It’s not my usual routine, but I wasn’t in an Ellen mood.

It was one of those update shows about Dr. Oz and how people fared after taking his advice. There were people who had lost over 100 pounds and people who discovered they had cancer in the early stages.

All I could think about is how awesome it would be to have that kind of influence. How would it feel to know you were making a life-changing difference in the lives of untold numbers of people? Wouldn’t you feel important? How amazing would that be?

I dream that someday my words will influence that many people in a positive way. Even if I never get there, though, I have to think that making a difference in the world can be an accumulation of small positive gifts everyday.

Have you ever heard the Teddy Stallard story by Elizabeth Ballard? It is merely a story, unfortunately, but it chronicles how one person has the ability to say or do just the right thing to change the direction of someone else’s life.

In this story, little Teddy is a nasty, angry, unlikeable little fifth grade boy. His teacher even takes secret pleasure in marking his papers in red ink. When she takes the time to look over his past files, she finds out he was a bright, delightful boy until his mother died of a terminal illness the year before.

When the boy gives her a half-empty bottle of his mom’s perfume for Christmas, the teacher’s heart is softened and she begins to give him a little extra time with his reading, helping him to catch up to the other students. Teddy keeps in touch, and eventually becomes a doctor and asks his teacher to stand in for his mother at his wedding.

Teddy thanks his teacher for showing him how one person can make a difference. She insists he was the one that taught her how to really teach, that he made a difference in her life first.

We may never know what kind of difference any of our good deeds make, at least this side of heaven. That doesn’t mean we should stop doing them. Like the Biblical parable of the loaves and fishes, “little is much, when God is in it” (Kittie L. Suffield, 1924).

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