What would you like others to say about you after you pass away? I remember thinking about this question when I had to write an epitaph for an assignment in a high school English class. The best thing I could come up with was that I hoped people would attest to the impact, or significant difference, I had made in the lives of others. Many of us want to make a difference in this world, but what does this mean and why is it important?
Countless stories reveal the ways friends impact each other’s lives. Take for example J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Those of you who know the story will remember Frodo was an ordinary creature who would have preferred to stay in the comfort of his home in the Shire. Instead, Frodo soon found himself far away from everything familiar and comfortable. Very long story short, Frodo persevered through the worst of circumstances, mainly because of the significant difference his friend, Sam, made in his life. Sam was there for Frodo, not as a wise expert, but as a loyal friend and companion. Sam was a true friend. Because of his stable presence and support, he helped and encouraged Frodo in ways no one else could.
Like Frodo, I have experienced fearful and hard times in life. And like Frodo, I have made it through these times because of the support and influence from particular friends. In every situation, true friends, those who have been there with me during my lowest points, have affected me in significant ways and motivated me to live with purpose. Just this week, I experienced the caring and loving nature of my true friends. I was in a low spot emotionally, but I had two friends who came into my world and showed me they were there for me. It wasn’t so much their advice that made the difference, but the fact that they cared. I felt loved, supported, and empowered.
We sometimes minimize the impact we have on others. We may be tempted to believe we are too weak to make a significant impression in another’s life. One thing we must never forget, however, is that the Lord uses us in our weakness to accomplish his plan and purpose with his strength (1 Corinthians 12:9-10). Though we cannot know the full plan and purpose, we can take courage the Lord will finish what he started in us and through us (Philippians 1:6). Christ’s work, in us and through us, enables us to do far greater things than we could ever imagine.
Do you want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others? My suspicion is you won’t have to look far to find someone who needs you. Be a true friend today. Sometimes the best way to help people is to love, accept, and support them right where they are.