We have all watched, mesmerized, as ever-expanding ripples roll across the water. Even a small pebble could have started it all, but the ripples continue reaching outward long after the pebble has disappeared into the water.
Sometimes, even the smallest action can have far-reaching effects. A kind word or a small act of service can be the pebble that creates ripples of positive results which touch other people in ways we could never have anticipated.
“Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.” (Andy Andrews)
A single person can initiate such ripple effects in the simplest of ways. If we begin to notice, we can see it happening all around us. Each instance can inspire us to become aware of the positive effects what we do can have on others, and we can learn from each other.
Here are examples of one person who never anticipated, and rarely recognized, the positive impact she was having on other people throughout her lifetime by:
Raising her children in an environment of unconditional support …
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
She raised three kids who, in turn, created nine grandchildren leading to seven great-grandchildren (and counting), spreading ripples outward across generations yet to come.
Her role was not limited to just caring for her children’s physical needs, but was also selflessly focused on lovingly encouraging and supporting them. She was always there, always available, sacrificing her own needs to raise three adults who now hope they can perpetuate those ripples of love through their own families and lives.
“Doing good holds the power to transform us on the inside, and then ripple out in ever-expanding circles that positively impact the world at large.” (Shari Arison)
“Do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)
She has supported her grandchildren in a non-judgmental manner, not by spoiling them, but by sincerely loving them. She became a grandma who is, in turn, truly loved, and she serves as a positive example of kindness and character for yet another generation.
As the wife of a husband who was in the public eye, she was the one who ran the family behind the scenes. Her support, even with his travel and long work hours, allowed him to make a difference in the community, and she contributed in many ways to all that he did.
She is the one who keeps the extended family connected, including keeping up with what everyone is doing. She has made in-laws, friends, and even strangers welcome, and she has inspired a sense of family that will continue to span households for years to come.
“We can do no great things. We can only do little things with great kindness.” (Mother Teresa)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
Showing genuine empathy and kindness is a part of who she is on a normal basis, and she always has a friendly word that lifts others up, no matter what they may be feeling. She has never met a stranger and can somehow manage to touch virtually anyone, whether it was the neighbors across the street or the person next to her in line at the grocery store.
In the fifties and beyond, living in the Deep South, she showed tolerance and love for people of color in a way that shaped how her children view humanity in general. With young kids, she didn’t have just a housekeeper, but a friend who also happened to help do things around the house, even at a time when that friend was not welcome in some public restaurants.
Few of us are upbeat all the time, but as she has gracefully aged, acquiring a growing list of aches and ailments that could have occupied her focus, she remains positive and caring, inspiring others around her to also want to look for the good in each day.
“Each smallest act of kindness, reverberates across great distances and spans of time — affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit,was the source of this good echo.” (Dean Koontz)
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:7-8)
Approaching the still-young age of eighty-five, she helps organize church services at an assisted living residence. This ministry touches not only those who live there (some of whom are younger than she), but also their families, the rest home staff, and the other volunteers who are involved.
She taught high school to troubled teens and helped them take steps toward a more positive life. Even if they couldn’t make it in public school, they could make it in her class, where they experienced small acts of support and compassion on a daily basis.
She volunteered at a home for the mentally challenged at a time when they were often stuck off on their own, separated from society as outcasts. Although she didn’t talk about it much, her kids and others knew what she was doing, enough to inspire her daughter to later become involved in helping with Special Olympics.
“It’s sad that in a world of billions, people can still feel isolated and alone. Sometimes all it takes to brighten up someone’s day is a smile or kind word, or the generous actions of a complete stranger.” (Shaun Hick)
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:6)
Her grandfather was a Methodist circuit preacher, and her mother went to church, always. She, in turn, took her kids to church, where they remain involved today. Her faith remains understated and honest, yet somehow real and powerful.
Church has always been an integral part of who she is: Sunday School, Bible studies, women’s groups, volunteering, and giving to the church were always a part of her life. As she has aged, her active participation and wise observations in church groups, marked by insight, humor, and humility, have continued to touch others.
Life has not always been easy for her. Whether it was moving countless times as a young girl, caring for her mom (even after cancer), becoming a young war widow, surviving a second husband years later who also loved her greatly, or handling a variety of serious health issues with grace and courage, she has not only endured, but maintained her sweet and positive spirit throughout. Even now, with pulmonary fibrosis, life simply goes on, and her biggest cares and concerns remain prayerfully focused on others, not on herself.
Her faith, strength, and zest for life remain undaunted, and she is an inspiration for us all.
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” (Scott Adams)
I have had the honor of enjoying this woman’s warm spirit and positive attitude for many years. As a modern model of “The Woman of Noble Character” in Proverbs 31, she serves as a living example of humility, sacrifice, and kindness. The ripples of love she has initiated have touched many, and they will continue onward for generations to come.
After all that, what else can one say? I can only think of one last thing: “Thanks, Mom.”
Do you believe you impact others through the ripple effects of what you do?
Action: Drop a pebble in the water today with a kind word or an act of service for someone, and let God perpetuate the positive ripples from what you do.