Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Last week BeautyBeyondBones (BBB) paid a beautiful tribute, Finding the Why, to a former acting teacher, Hope, who died. The woman had a big influence on her life, and my comments to BBB got me thinking about how it’s a message we should all consider and act upon.
So thank you, Beauty, for inspiring another article here!
We are the sum of our experiences. It’s true. What that cliché doesn’t admit to is that there is a usually a mere handful of people that create really pivotal experiences.
At the end of it all, I was not very close to either of my parents. Still, they kept my sisters and I clothed, fed, and sheltered. Thanks in large part to my maternal grandmother, I believe, we were sent to a Lutheran grade school at our church, grades K-8. “Little Grandma,” as we called her, did most of the rearing and was the one who always helped us with our homework. She played with us, taught us countless games, bought us ice cream when the ice cream boy came around, pedaling – yes, pedaling! – his freezer box cart. Little Grandma lived across the street from us, and that’s where I remember spending most of my childhood, playing with her or in her stuff-filled attic and basement. See Memory Warehouse.
In short, the three of them put the basic pieces together. But they didn’t provide me with everything I needed. No parent can.
Your parents produced you, taught you, and influenced you. But every family has its own “dance.” It’s what happens when you go back home and feel like a little kid again, due both to the physical surroundings and the simple stimulus/response of those life-long relationships. We fall into those familiar patterns whether we want to or not.
People outside of our families “activate” us. That’s the best word I can think of at this moment. In any event, they do something different. The introduce us to a significantly different dance from the one ingrained in our family, one that is not familiar but still resonates with something our parents and family put there.
BBB’s acting teacher, for example. I had my theatre professor, Jim Austin, at Heidelberg College, high school friends Steve Harris and Rick Michael. There was even one other acquaintance at Heidelberg I cannot even now name, but I wrote about him recently in Washing Feet.
ACTIVATE! That’s what Hope did for BBB and Jim did for me. It’s the love BBB talked about that we’re put here for. We are here to make a difference in other people’s lives. As a college or corporate instructor, I didn’t find teaching the curriculum so satisfying as helping other people with their lives by way of the class.
I helped one corporate student from Canada break through a glass ceiling she was caught under at her facility and helped a thirty-something college student remember and reclaim who she really was; see Smart Blonde. I’ve played unofficial and official mentor to co-workers and assigned myself as a second dad or unrelated “uncle” to others who accepted whatever help I offered them.
That’s a lot of “I’s”, but it’s not for self-promotion. It’s to make the point that there are ways we get “activated” and – most importantly – activate others! It’s simply a blessing, which is to be discovered and treated to when any of us ACTIVATES something in someone else’s life.
That’s why BBB is such a phenomenon; she contributes to other people’s lives in meaningful ways. 31,000+ at last count. Which begs the questions, if you aren’t following her yet, why not? I mean, 31,000+ people; that’s an above average sized town for crying out loud! Over half of Americans live in towns of 25,000 or so. She practically has her own city!
I raised my daughters, gave them what I could as a father. The rest of what they need, I don’t have. They’ll have to get whatever it is from their “Jim Austins,” their “Hopes.” Having raised my girls, I still have a responsibility to activate, to love others in different ways. There have been the opportunities and successes listed above to name a few. God will place more opportunities in my path; I just hope don’t miss too many of them!
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
What contribution can you make to someone’s life this day, this week? Even if it’s just giving the half empty bag of mini chocolate donuts on your car seat to a beggar on the exit ramp (and that one hurt, people); significant doesn’t have to be big! Any gesture can have – dare I say it? – eternal consequences!
Well, done, BBB! Both in contributing to other people’s faith, recovery, need for light, and honoring the memory of your teacher.
You and me, my friends? Let’s build a similar history for ourselves and, more importantly, to honor God and the Activating He has done for us!