Do you have any idea how many people you influence daily? This, a question we don’t often ponder, and when we do, we tend to drastically underestimate the answer. The truth is, our actions and words have a far greater reach than what we realize.
I had a humbling reminder of this recently. Greg and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s incredible to look at the depth and significance of the events that have occurred in our lives over the last ten years. One of the most important journeys we’ve walked together in our marriage has been our spiritual one.
Greg and I both had a phase in our lives where we drifted away from our faith; questioning what we were taught in our youth when life’s twists and turns seemed to conflict so drastically. For me, one of the main aversions to attending church was the continued hypocrisy within the church community. People would act one way on a Sunday, and the rest of the week they were someone else. The judgmental behavior and proverbial moral pedestal so many seemed to stand on became too much for me to handle, so I left.
It was many years later, only after serving in the United States Air Force in Afghanistan and experiencing profound trauma, did I begin to find my way back. I came back from war broken; a shell of who I was. In all my pain and sadness, I felt a longing for a deeper relationship with God. Greg and I talked, tried a few churches, and eventually ended up finding one that fit.
We had many doubts, and quite a few questions that gradually over time, were answered. We grew into our church and joined a couple of small groups. We began to actually read our bibles and study what we didn’t understand before. The more we studied, the more questions we had. The more questions we had, the more we talked. The more we talked, the closer we became. Before we knew it, we’d reached a whole new level of intimacy in our marriage that rocked our world.
If I’m being completely honest, there was a period of time where we were both so self-absorbed in our own worlds that we struggled to find a place where we could meet in the middle and actually identify with each other. It was through our spiritual journey that that we really connected with each other again, only this time it was much deeper than ever before.
When we left Florida, we felt a sense of loss leaving our church family behind. We had concern we wouldn’t be able to find and connect with another church the way we had in Florida. I was sad to say goodbye to our small group, and the amazing discussions we had that fed into so many more for Greg and me. Thankfully, we found a new church home in Texas and we’ve continued this incredible journey of personal sanctification together. We’ve continued to pursue God individually and as a couple.
Ten years of marriage are now behind us, and thankfully in those ten years, we’ve grown even closer to each other. As part of our celebration, we chose to renew our vows to each other. We agreed it was important for us to have an outward expression of our faith and also made the decision to renew our “vows in our faith” and were baptized together. Greg was baptized first, and then he helped baptize me, which was an incredible honor for us both.
It was a special moment for us, but we had no idea it would touch other lives. The next day I got a text from a friend of mine, and she told me she’d just finished watching the video of our baptism and was moved to tears. She said she and her husband were thinking about doing it together for a long time, but never did. After watching ours, they were so inspired that they decided to do it themselves.
I was so humbled by her words. Our baptism was such an intimate moment for us and our intentions were so personal, that I never even gave any thought to it being influential to anyone else. Of course, I then began to ponder the magnitude of individual influence. I wonder how it would impact our decisions if we knew how many people would be impacted by them.
I’ve said many times in the past, and will continue to do so in the future; that the impact we have on each other is far greater than we realize. Community, fellowship, and connection are all such vital facets of our world. We each bring such unique gifts and perspective to others.
While it’s impossible to know for sure just how many people are influenced by what we say and do; perhaps we should take the posture of assuming that the number is substantial. If that’s the case, then what an opportunity for us all to ensure that our actions align with our intentions.
What a beautiful messy piece of art God created when he put us all together to learn and grow from each other. And even more incredible is that he gave us each a paintbrush to add to the canvas. What are you going to paint?