Tonight I was reading through some of my Grandmother’s old papers and I came across a talk she had written long ago. In this talk she discusses how people (especially young people) commonly say “What I do with my life is my own business and concerns no one else.” She points out that those who would say that have given little thought to the matter or they wouldn’t be able to say such a thing. She states, “The mere fact that we exist makes us part of the environment of others. Our presence makes them act differently even when we may, in our own minds, be unconcerned about them. Whether we desire it or not, we daily make our contributions to those with whom we associate.”
She goes on to suggest that we stop and think of all the people that our actions have special significance to, such as: Grandparents who sacrificed in order to build a future for those to come; Parents of whom she states, “Do you think it would be possible to count the hours, the weeks, months, yes and even the years they spent for you? Everything they did was influenced by YOUR needs, YOUR desires, and YOUR aspirations. All they could give they gave you…”; brothers and sisters who love and depend on us and who we have the ability to influence, either for bad or good; church organizations, who fairly or not, are judged by our actions; friends and associates who depend on us and have faith in the person they trust and believe us to be; and the little boys and girls who look up to us as their examples and who desire to grow up to be exactly like this person they admire. Thinking of all these people that our actions have significance to, she poignantly reminds that, “Yes others pay when you fail to live to the best you are capable of.”
She goes on to express, “All of us at times do things which are beneath us; we constantly find ourselves stepping down from the ideals we profess and claim to live by, and we are aware that each time we do this – each time we commit an unworthy act – it makes the repetition of it just that much easier. It takes real strength and courage to cast these evils aside, to repent of our wrongdoing, and get back on the right track. But it is a strength we should all cultivate because the results are too important. When we find ourselves slipping back, the time to remedy that condition is NOW. The sooner we try to correct our faults, the sooner we shall find ourselves back on the right track…
She ends her talk by reminding us, “Your personal responsibility is great. Your actions are more far-reaching than you may ever know. The things you do with your life affects too many people for you to lightly shrug off your actions as being important to yourself alone. Never forget this…”
Powerful words she shared….even more powerful when they reach from beyond the grave as hers do…and words that are unbelievably powerful to me as they come from a Grandmother I loved with all my heart, and a woman I most admired and who I aspire to be just like when I grow up.
May we never forget all those whose lives our actions have significance to, and may we recognize that our example is farther reaching than we will ever know.
~Amy Rees Anderson