During the past year and a half to two years I have been to more funerals than I care to remember. Whether these gatherings were called "funeral" or "memorial service" or "celebration of life," there was always an eulogy of some sort, a tribute to the deceased, usually given by a close family member or someone who knew him or her very well. And there was always a time set aside during the service when family and freinds could share what heaven's newest resident meant to them. Some services had many people share; others had only a few share. Regardless of how many people shared, it was clear that the person made a difference with their life.
What did they do during their lives to make a difference? None of these individuals were famous. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, colleagues, friends. They all had their own unique flaws. They also had their own unique gifts. They took the time to build relationships with those around them. They gave of themselves, and received love in return.
It is easy to tell that they made a difference with their lives, by the way they are greatly missed by the ones who were closest to them. There may have been times the person honored thought he was only one person in this vast world of ours, that what he was doing was insignificant or unimportant. I feel that way sometimes. We all do. But what we fail to see in those times is that we are being watched. Somehow, somewhere, in our everyday lives, there is somebody we mean the world to. It's not because we did anything special, like rescue a child from a burning building, or donate a ton of money to a college and have a building named after us. For most of us, we become heroes simply by living life using the unique talents and abilities God has given us.
Doing something that makes a difference in someone's life can be as simple as a phone call, saying I missed you. It's sharing a cookie with a child whose last-inning strike-out lost the game for the team and telling him you are proud of him, not because he lost the game, but because he did his best. It may come in the form of making a "random" comment that you don't remember what you said, that made someone think twice before making a bad decision. It's been said that 90% of helping is just showing up. The act of being available to listen speaks volumes.
Yes, what we do to make a lasting difference with our life might be something we don't notice. But to the one whose life was impacted, it will be remembered forever.