Everybody has their own idea of what it means—and what it takes—to change the world. Some people will tell you that one person can change the world, whereas others will tell you the opposite. One teacher-hopeful in my cohort, when asked what disillusionments she had coming into this profession, said that a lot of teachers start this profession expecting to change the world, but in her opinion they needed to realize that took years to do.

I am here to disagree. I am one of the loyal optimists who believes—no, who knows that one person can change the world, and they can do it in one minute.

Der Meister and I were in our early months together when we took a trip up north. We were going to meet his relatives from the land of the sun at his Aunt Cookie’s. I was excited and, as is expected, a bit nervous. At that time, most of Der Meister’s family was still unknown to me. For those of you unfamiliar with the Long Shanks clan, they are numerous. And they recognize the overwhelmed look on your face as you are told everyone’s name and relation, and with a loving smile on their face, they will tease you that there will be a quiz later. (Hint: When in doubt, call everyone a cousin.)

I had heard of the fine relatives from the south. Der Meister told me of their love of reading, talent in music, and annual Boxing Day adventures. He liked this family and I was soon to discover why. Once at Aunt Cookie’s, Der Meister took me to the legendary upper rooms to meet his cousins. When I walked through the door with him, I was greeted by these two young ladies and at once felt the same way I did when I am with my own cousins: that these are going to be some of my favorite people. And imagine my shock when one of these fine ladies approaches me and says she had heard about me and has wanted to meet me. (Shock and awe. She heard what? And wanted to meet me?) Having learned what I had about these fine people, I took this as quite a complement and knew, by their genuine show of interest and acceptance, that, within a few minutes of my arrival, I had found true cousins.

Naturally, Der Meister I had told me about Aunt Cookie and her cookies. He had also told me about her wall where she would hang pictures of all of her relatives. Anytime someone sent Aunt Cookie a photo, up it would go on the wall to be proudly displayed. After receiving Aunt Cookie’s “Hello, you two!” and her contagious smile that could instantly turn into giggles, I stood with Der Meister before this wall in her kitchen. There, represented in old and new photographs, were the lives of quite a few people. Some I recognized—including the new cousins I just met—and some I had yet to meet. Aunt Cookie stood next to me and, starting in one corner, proudly told me about each of her “kids,” with Der Meister adding some tidbits here and there. And then I saw my photo, Der Meister’s and mine engagement picture. There we were on Aunt Cookie’s wall, right there among other engagement photos of other cousins, there for Aunt Cookie to see and proudly show off to visitors. I had made Aunt Cookie’s wall! I was already considered “wall worthy!” And I was brand new! I didn’t know then about the rest of the clan’s opinions, but I knew one cute maiden aunt considered me good and worthy. I was then, and always after, one of her “kids.” And she was proud of me.

The world is a huge place. Such a glorious world by such a gracious, loving Father in Heaven. He wants you to succeed! He wants you to make the world a better place, both for yourself and others. He gave you talents, abilities, hobbies, pleasures, personality, and desires to change and better the world. This lovely, large world that surrounds us and testifies of Him.

Yet there are times when this large world seems to enclose you tightly and you realize that the world, your personal world of life, is small and can be affected by the smallest of things. A smile, a “good job,” a friend treating you to your favorite shake, a cousin welcoming you into the family, a new aunt putting your picture on her wall. And your world is changed. You realize you are not alone and that people not only notice, but that they are here for you.

Various quotes come to mind about how we can affect the world for good. Mahatma Ghandi tells us to be the change we want to see in the world, a quote that so impressed Erin Gruwell’s Freedom Writers that they took it as their motto. Then there are quotes about conquering the world, the world being your oyster, and all that. Some are inspired by the hymn that asks if you’ve done any good in the world today. Whatever the motivation, we strive to bring beauty and joy to this beautiful world that some days seems to bombard us with anything it can throw at us, and yet there we are, still standing, at the end of the day. Because we are not alone.

One person can change the world and immediately make it a better place. Whose world have you changed today?

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