Spiritually Speaking: The Ripple Effect

Spiritually Speaking: The Ripple Effect


Opal Creek Wilderness, Oregon

Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

This might seem “so last year,” but I’m sure the majority of you who have an Instagram account were aware of the “#2017bestnine” trend that was going around for the last couple weeks of the year.

A 3rd party site calculated the top nine most liked photos on a person’s feed from the entire year and summed them up in one post.

I thought it was interesting what pictures topped some others, but what especially stood out to me was the cumulative amount of likes that was represented at the bottom of the collage.

I didn’t do the math, because gross, but I couldn’t help but be astounded. If each picture could only be liked by one person one time, and yet all nine photos alone totaled 21,000+ likes for just little, hardly-known me…well, that’s a crazy ton of double-tapping!

Even if it was only for a brief moment in their day, my post or picture or caption or hashtag(s) made ever so slight enough of an impression on them.
Maybe they forgot about it within minutes, or maybe they follow me regularly and therefore liked it simply because they already know the real me aside from virtual appearances.

Whatever their situation or reasoning might be, this started my wheels turning. I just couldn’t curb my curiosity.

Thankfully, though, someone out there who enjoys number-crunching already processed the statistics for me regarding approximately how many people we influence in a lifetime.

my most liked 9 pictures from 2017
my most liked pictures from 2016, because I was curious


The blog, Adioma, states (check out that link for a cool visual, by the way),

“On average we live for 78.3 years. Most of us remember people we meet after age 5. Assume we interact with 3 new people daily in cities, 365 days in a year plus leap year days is 365.24. In total it will be (78.3 – 5) x 3 x 365.24 = 80,000 people.”

Yeah, go read that again to let it sink in.
I couldn’t fathom that equation’s result at first.

But then I began counting everyone I knew, starting with those closest to me, like family, friends, and coworkers. Then I worked my way out from each one of them to their kindred and mutual relationships, out to the very furthest acquaintances including people I only know by facial recognition, name, or social media handles. Then, finally I tried to estimate how many absolute strangers I’ve interacted with at theme parks, grocery stores, or while traveling…and didn’t even bother counting.

You know, I’d even bet with the added factor of social media these days, the number above could be even higher, maybe doubled in some cases.

So, cool arithmetic lesson, but where am I going with this, right?

Well, this all led me to ask myself, what kind of lasting impression, if any, either good or bad, have I made or am I making on others?

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 states that we, as Christians, are God’s Word on display. We are walking proof that He does marvelous things; we are oftentimes the only Bible anyone will ever “read” or the only positive influence they’ll ever know.

That’s heavy for me.

Whenever I read scripture like that, it emboldens me, but the reality of its responsibility also can feel overwhelming.

However, if you look at it from the perspective of a simple Instagram post with upbeat hashtags, or a nice gesture, or compliment to a random individual the next time you’re waiting in a line, or the role you play in your immediate family on a daily basis, it just might seem doable.

Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to do some substantial good on this earth while I’m here, specifically utilizing my love for English and doing humanitarian work in struggling countries.

And while that could definitely still happen, the discouraging part that gets me is that I am just one person among several billion.

But, we have to start somewhere.

You know the saying, to the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.

Though I may not be able to make a difference in the entire world as we know it directly, I don’t really have to. I just need to make an impact in the small corner of it that I happen to inhabit.

We all know it as the ripple effect: Stick your finger in a small body of water and little waves spread out in all directions.

Like I mentioned in one of my recent posts, we may never know the impact we have on people.

Off the top of my head, I can think of teachers who encouraged me to pursue my passions, as well as coaches who all but killed my enthusiasm and love for the game.

I also remember when I was in high school my brother came up with the idea to send out daily bible verses through group texts. I thought it brilliant, albeit not the most convenient with our little flip phones at that time.

But I copied his example and continued the habit ever since. Now, it’s been more than a decade, and I can’t recall how many times someone has responded with “this is exactly what I needed today!” And the best part is I can’t even take credit for it–I’m just the messenger.

1 Timothy 4:12 “…be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

That verse simultaneously compels and convicts me: The very way I live should be causing others to want what I’ve got.

I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the thought that someone may have had a horrible day because of me, though I’m sure it’s happened.

The things we say, the general attitude we most consistently display, and the actions we continually do all influence people around us, and vice versa.

Think about all of the sayings and jokes, or even styles, habits and opinions you and your friends share because you’re around each other all of the time. Naturally, you have an effect on them just like they will have an effect on you.

Keep in mind, this can be either positive or negative. That’s why it’s so important our desires and daily thoughts are aligned with the Lord’s; He’ll keep our motives in check.

Matthew 5:13 says we are supposed to be salty (and no, not the sarcastic kind). Think of it, if you eat savory foods, it doesn’t take long until you feel an urge of thirst.

People are always watching.

Humanity is hungry for truth, for understanding, and for connection.

All that is needed is for someone to dip their finger in the pool–someone willing to take the lead, possibly look like a fool, and just care a little bit more.

You don’t have to be an extrovert. You don’t need a five step plan for rescuing the world. You just need a heart surrendered to Christ, and He’ll point you in the right direction.

The reason it is said that a little bit of kindness goes a long way is because it doesn’t start and end with the person you offer it to; it takes a piggyback ride to the next person, or persons, and keeps on leaping.

But just like the ripples in a puddle, their strength does eventually fade–you’ll likely have the highest impact on those closest to you, but it still counts.

The trick is to make a big splash. Cannonballs are totally acceptable. Don’t be afraid to make waves.

Remember, our lives aren’t intended to be lived just for us. Let’s leave lasting legacies by being contagiously courageous and intentionally inspiring wherever we are, no matter how many people we know, or don’t.

And also, have a great rest of your first month of 2018, folks!