Time passes so quickly; sometimes you don’t even notice how fast. Recently, I was in line at my local bank. When my turn came at the counter, the teller greeted me by name. He asked about my oldest son and my mother. Clearly this young man knew me, but I was baffled. I’m usually pretty good with faces even when the person’s name escapes me. I finally had no choice but to ask him his name and how he knew me. It turned out, he was one of my second grade students from fifteen years ago.
While he told me a little about himself and his sister who had also been a student, I was thinking , ‘Wow, how time passes!’ I’ll be honest with you, I never think about how old I am until I’m confronted with it. There I was old enough to teach my former students’ children. His children and my grandchildren are in the same grade. Needless to say, I enjoyed our conversation. We now chat every time I see him at the bank. Time passes, but our impact on a person’s life rarely does.
I remember my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gorman and my second grade teacher, Mrs. Southerland. I remember my music teacher, Mrs. Taylor and my gymnastic teacher, Ms. Graves. These teachers and so many others had such an impact on my life – an impact that will never be forgotten. They invested their time, talent, and treasure in my education and self-esteem. They encouraged me to be and do my best at various stages of my development. I believe they left a little bit of themselves with me which allowed me to cultivate the essential parts of my identity and my worldview. These educational examples are multiplied by numerous relatives, family friends, pastors, counselors, bosses, neighbors, professors, co-workers, and coaches who took the time to encourage or support my endeavors and dreams. As time passes, this list grows exponentially.
It’s amazing when you think about how people can impact your life and how the effects of that impact can last a lifetime. Their faces, their words, the touch of their hands, the gift of their time emerged with your personality, your goals and your dreams can be magical when the impact is positive. On the other hand, when the impact is negative not enough time can pass to set aside the damage done to one’s self-esteem and emotional stability. What’s that saying about how many positives it takes to erase a negative? Time is passing whether we make an impact or not. Still it’s up to us whether we use our time communally or selfishly.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It reads, “There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (NIV) This passage makes it clear that there is a positive way to spend our time, and there is a negative way to spend our time. For me, the cool thing is we get to choose. (My own interpretation.)
We can’t do anything to stop time from passing. Minutes roll into hours, hours roll into days, days roll into months, and months roll into years. The next thing you know decades have passed. The question is, what are we doing with our time. Are we investing ourselves into the lives of others – another generation? Are we making a positive impact on our culture – our society? Will we be cherished in someone’s memory after we have translated to another time and space? Will someone smile when they see us years later, or when our name comes up in conversation? If ever there was a time for choosing to build, to laugh, to heal, to embrace, to mend, to speak kindness, and love; the time is now.
The young man I mentioned at the top of this blog entry told me that our school’s summer camp meant the world to him and his sister. He said it was their happy place at a time when their home environment was not so happy. His mother and father were in a domestic battle which included some physical abuse. There were days when they were afraid to be at home. He said he and his sister owed their aunt who paid for the summer camp everything. He said he was glad to have the opportunity to thank me for making learning exciting, taking them on fieldtrips, and expanding their world. He said our school convinced him and his sister that life would get better one day. I certainly can’t take credit for all our school had to offer; I believe the students in every grade had the same experience. What I took away from our conversation is how important it is to pass your time wisely as you interface with others. You never know how much the things you say and do will impact someone’s outlook for the future.
Wow! A lot of time has passed as I tried to capture a particular moment in time and the impact it had on me. I want so much to live a life that’s worth the living – to leave a legacy that gives the generations behind me hope and vision. That’s why I write. That’s why I teach. That’s why I participate in the beloved community. Yesterday is gone, but the things we’ve done, the things we said, the impact we’ve made can live on. Seeing my second grade student all grown up with a beautiful outlook, a family, and good memories from a difficult childhood motivates me to keep trying to make a positive impact in the time that I have.
Take a few minutes to think about those things and people that made a positive impact in your life. Share it with someone you care about before time passes.
Peace to you. Stay safe. Stay sane.