Impact: to have a strong effect on someone or something. We all have an ability to impact the world around us. Are you being careful with your impact?
As I was leaving home one morning, I looked down to see this sweet little snail. It was slowing making its way across the step and I’m surprised it caught my eye. And actually, what first caught my attention was the screeching of a nearby crow excited for breakfast. In the moment that I sensed danger for my snail friend, I impacted its life by picking it up and moving it to what I considered safety. Here’s the problem: I made an impact based on a judgment and not a Truth.
Initially, my heart felt all warm and fuzzy because I had heroically rode into the situation and placed the snail into a safer space. Ahhh, good for me, I lived out the desired of doing no harm. The truth is, however, I did do harm! Staying focused on the snail, I’m certain I terrorized it by picking it up. Seriously, I’m probably 1,000 times larger than the snail! The entire process of moving it likely sent waves of terror throughout its system. And, while the immediate need for rescue may have been met, I don’t know what I don’t know, meaning, perhaps where I placed it was actually of greater risk because I wasn’t exactly doing a study in the ecosystem to determine the risk of the resting space. For the crow, I took away breakfast with no consideration for him/her at all. If crows are known to remember when someone is kind to them (which they are by the way), then I can presume this one will remember me as unkind. I placed greater value on the life of the snail. So, for someone trying to do no harm, I blew it!
Now, do I think I should hold shame over my misguided, albeit love-intended, intrusion into the relationship between the snail and the crow? No. I do, however, want to see the larger application. Many of us go about with a desire to fix people and situations and, while so lovely at its core, we simply must be sure we understand all that is at play in the situation and strive to do no harm for all involved. We will always have the potential for doing harm and, wouldn’t it be great if we could mitigate the amount of harm by being more intentional with how we make an impact.
Things aren’t as black-and-white as they seem. There is truth (small t) and Truth (capital T) and sometimes our understanding of the truth gets in the way of us seeing the Truth and we move in haste making a negative impact where at the very least, we could have made no impact. You see, there was a natural course, a natural order to the relationship between the snail and the crow and I interfered. My best move would have been to do nothing and, knowing me, pray for the snail to make it to safety and for the crow to find breakfast elsewhere. I made a judgment in which one life had more value and then, impacted both lives. Not out of malice, out of ignorance.
I see this playing out on so many levels in our world right now and it is heartbreaking. We are devastating people because they are different and we’ve placed an arbitrary value on them that is less than the Truth. We’ve stepped into their ecosystem and laid waste to all involved and we have done great harm. So, for my part, I’m learning to do nothing until I am able to determine the best path for me that is most honoring to all involved. I’m learning to listen more and speak less. I’m learning to hold both failure and success equally, and lightly, because the Truth is they both have value.
Jesus told us to go, and as we are going, show people what it looks like to follow Him so that they may desire to follow Him also. That’s impact by being, not action, and we must move with intention and care. So, the question today is, are you being careful with your impact?