One of the most effective ways we can have lasting impact on our world is to become a conduit of peace. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying and doing nothing at all.
I’m obsessed with impact. I want my life to count for something. Don’t you?
I want to be an influencer for good. It’s deeply important to me that I represent the Lord Jesus well and model His grace and love to everyone I meet.
But I don’t always do a good job of that.
I tend to manage moments on my own instead of allowing God to put me where He needs me most. When I do put the Lord in charge of my Day-Planner, it becomes obvious that He is orchestrating my activities and encounters down to the moment. He does such a good job of that!
Take a recent Tuesday morning. Thinking it would be a quiet day, I got an early start at my desk. Unlike many writing sessions, the words flowed, and within two hours, I had a completed blog post on the WordPress drawing board.
Immediately after I hit the “Publish” button, the phone rang. A man in our church had suffered a stroke. “Do you want to go with me to the hospital?” my Preacher-Creature husband asked. Well, yeah! Frank is my buddy. He and I have this script we say to each other every Sunday. It started when my vision improved and I was discovering I could see so much more of people’s faces than ever before.
Me: It’s so good to see you.
Frank: It’s good to be seen.
Frank has suffered several strokes so, yes, he is appreciating renewal of life as much as I am. And now, Frank was in ICU with a bigger than usual stroke.
Since we didn’t know how many people would be allowed in Frank’s ICU room at one time, we decided I would sit in the waiting room while Jack visited with Frank. I found a comfortable chair in a quiet corner, whipped out my IPAD PRO, and started transcribing notes.
I forgot that Intensive Care Unit family waiting rooms are for families whose loved ones are in ICU. And ICU means life-threatening, intense situations.
A woman sat across from me, talking on her cell phone. I caught a few sentences, enough to deduce that a family member was in ICU with cancer, had been there several days, and the family was rotating in and out, trying to catch sleep as they could. Not wanting to eavesdrop, I hunkered down and concentrated on my notes.
Soon an older, weary looking woman wandered in, sat beside me briefly and then spotted the other woman who was now off the phone. A third woman joined them. They soon digressed into a tense argument about the care of their loved one.
It was a conversation I didn’t want to hear, one I shouldn’t have heard. Their discussion was animated enough that I couldn’t concentrate. I wanted to move to the other side of the room to give them the privacy they deserved. Okay, honesty check-up. I wanted privacy so I could keep working. I don’t like listening to family disputes. Would you?
Don’t you dare move, something or Someone told me. Don’t give them The Look either. Don’t even glance in their direction. This waiting room exists for conversations like this, not for writers who want quiet nooks.
If I wanted to make an impact for Jesus on that family, the very best thing I could do at that moment was to sit still, stay silent, and keep staring at my IPAD. The more invisible I could become, the better it would be for them.
When I told my husband later what had happened, he commented, “You did the right thing. They needed their environment to stay normal.” Very normal. They needed a haven where they had the freedom to be tense and anxious and fearful.. A safety net where they could wrangle out their misunderstandings, share their perceptions and perspectives, and admit their honest feelings about the mess they were facing.
What would their reaction have been if I had moved?
Shame at the discovery of their family quibble would have added another layer to hearts already heavy with grief and anxiety. One sister could have told the other to pipe down. That could have squelched their need to resolve their differences.
Instead, in the absence of criticism, my meld with my chair became a conduit of peace. Within two minutes, the women’s voices settled down. They apologized to each other for their sharp words and for how they weren’t listening to each other. Then they respectfully spoke in turn without interrupting.
I’m not saying my presence caused the turnaround in that family conversation. But I’ve got a gut feeling it wouldn’t have been so peaceful if I had moved or shown my annoyance even with so much as a glance and a frown.
How can we impact our world?
- It’s not just what we say.
- It’s not even just how we act.
Our impact can be most influential by how we react to those in the middle of expressing their brokenness. When we choose to be unfazed by their behavior, we project peace, acceptance, and grace.
Perhaps that’s what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote:
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
And Paul reminded his readers that we need to do our part to be at peace with all people. That word ALL includes strangers in hospital waiting rooms. Our best impact on the world comes when we project the peace and grace Christ has to offer.
What other times do people need us to stay silent and continue on with “life as usual?”
- The working spouse comes home tired and burdened with job responsibilities.
- A child at church makes a mess on the floor.
- Children are behaving badly at a dinner party.
- A teenage boy does something gross in public.
- A couple snips and snaps at each other in line at the grocery store.
- Someone walks in late to a church service.
Don’t react. Act normal. Stay silent. There are times when we need to act, yes. There are many more times when we can bring peace by becoming invisible and continuing with life as if nothing unusual was happening.
The world uses the slogan, Keep Calm.
The Bible calls it Grace.
Think about your past week? When did you need to remain silent and invisible?