What's your impact?
I was sitting at the dealership, getting an oil change, and attending to some recalls on my car. There was an older Puerto Rican man sitting next to me, asking me about what I was reading. At the time, I was reading a book called Thinking In Systems, on a chapter about counterintuitive leverage points within systems. He asked me what I was studying for and if I was a doctor. I explained that I was in a post-graduate program to get my license in marriage and family therapy. He told me he was proud of me for continuing to learn. He told me about his family, in vivid detail, I almost felt like I knew them or could picture them, and biggest regret was going after the money and not going to college. He talked to me about his 15 year old grandson, and his daughter who transitioned from being an accountant to being a special education teacher. He told me he made good money working for the CTA, but didn’t do what he was passionate about. He talked with me about his true passion, geography. “What? Geography?” I was thinking.
He reminisced on his high school exposure to geography, memorizing almost all of the countries and capitals in the world. He told me all about what he does now, with so much light in his eyes. He teaches biblical geography at a Bible Institute through his church. He was talking to me about nations. He talked to me about the Assyrian Empire, and it’s resurgence through ISIS. He was talking to me about empires and kingdoms, about Babylon, and I listened. I remember thinking “Oh I can tell him I’m a Christian too.” And in that moment, I realized my purpose in this moment was to listen. He talked about the importance of the Bible in understanding our current world, in a way that challenged my mind. Not about countries, about systems. And then that’s when it happened. “Mr. Flores, your car is ready.” “God Bless my dear, I’m sure your father is proud of you, keep up the good work.” I shook his hand, aware that this moment and conversation was over and thought, “But wait. We only talked about 15 minutes. What church do you go to? My dad died two years ago.” I had so many questions for him. I was left with so much I wanted to say. I opened up my computer which was already out, and wrote this. I’m left with these thoughts:
What impact do I leave on people? I was mildly annoyed when he initially wanted to talk, it’s like that feeling you get when you’re on an airplane and your neighbor wants to talk, but you just want to focus on your work, or sleep, or listen to your music.
I was impacted by this man, Mr. Flores. This fellow brother in the faith. The man who told me about purpose, and destiny, following your passion, how he was following his, my family, and my father. I was almost left in tears as he walked away. I wanted to chase him down, I could hear him down the hall laughing, lighting up some other conversation as he checked out of the dealership. I was impacted.
How is it that he said everything I needed to hear at that moment. How can someone be that used? Enough to change my trajectory for the day. I had just decided I needed to write more frequently, venturing outside of my comfort zone. Igniting a fire. And then I thought, what’s my impact? How can I be so open and used by God, that I can change people’s entire trajectory? That's love for people.
That’s the goal. Point people towards the cross. How can I be with people who point me more towards the cross and how I can I help point others. “The Word of God, the map of our lives” he said. He told me, “...this book matters, it matters to all, the believer and the non-believer. It matters to them too.”
So again, I challenge you to join me in reflecting:
What’s your impact?