"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Becoming World Changers...

Ever since I was a kid, I've always favored the underdog of the story. I became obsessed with the Civil Rights Movement in elementary school. Thurgood Marshall and Atticus Finch were my heroes. I really thought my life would be spent in a courtroom, fighting for the marginalized and forgotten.

Every stage of my life, I found underdogs that needed their voices heard. In High School, it was underprivileged kids so I started a tutoring program. In college, it was migrant farmworkers so I would go with legal aid and tell people their rights. After college it was teen moms then military wives who were lonely and afraid, the hungry and poor, refugees. I like people on the outskirts. I live for fringe people. The ones who often get forgotten and swept aside.

I started using the term world changer a lot the past couple of years. I speak it over my kids. I speak it over my friends. I believe it's a thing and it can happen and there is power in one person inciting change. I believe it in the very core of my being. It may be the fact that I am an idealist or a dreamer or a bleeding heart. But I think about how God sent One to change the entire course of history and how even though we can never have that same impact, through that One, we can change a corner of the world, make it a little bit better than it was before we got here.

I've learned a lot about world changing these past couple of years. Hard things. Good things. Things I didn't know before I found the things that impassion me. Things that could've helped me had I known. Things that need to be said out loud to all the world changers and wannabe world changers.

1. It's hard: That's why everyone doesn't do it. That's why people give up and walk away and buy in to the apathy that infects our generation. It takes a lot of work, often with little noticeable return. It is three steps forward, four steps backwards. It's exhausting at times. Times when all you want to do is not care and just consume like everyone else. But world changers fight through those feelings. They press on. They cling tight to their convictions and beliefs and don't quit just because no one seems to care or listen. They keep moving when it seems like all is at a standstill.

2. You need a tribe: World changing was never meant to be done in isolation It wasn't meant to be a lone wolf endeavor. You find your people. People with your heart and your passion. Or perhaps they don't quite have your heart or your passion just yet, but you share yours. And see what types of fires it ignites around you. It's hearts and stories just like yours that have ignited entire movements. Movements that propelled change and made a difference in countless lives.

3. It gets lonely sometimes: Even when you have a tribe, there comes a point in every world changer's life when it feels like you're the only one who cares. There comes a time when you wonder why your friends ignore your pleas to help whatever cause that fires you up. You wonder why they didn't come to your event. Or donate. Or share your post. But the lonely moments are there for a purpose, too. They may be there to regroup, to add to your tribe, to do some self-care. Or to just think. Because ideas become concrete ways to engage more people in changing the world in whatever form you've found to do that.

4. World changers encourage other world changers: I may not be as stirred as you are to whatever thing you're doing to make a difference, but I am going to be your biggest fan in what you're doing. Seeing God use the talents, treasures, and passions of fellow sojourners is one of my greatest joys on this journey. Because world changers realize they can't do it all but they can take a piece of the puzzle to put this whole broken place back together again. So when I see you with your piece, doing the things God designed you to do, I'm the loudest one clapping and cheering in the back, watching Him weave together your story into His. We get to help each other up when the hard work of world changing knocks one of us off our feet and discouragement threatens to silence our voice.

5. Tell stories: Stories are what God used to draw humanity to Him. Stories have power. They matter. Whatever your thing is, find the powerful stories and tell them. Because the world needs to hear the voices that often go unheard. They need to hear your story and how you got this heart ablaze for whatever you wake up for each day.

6. Leverage what you've got: You may not have all the money to do all the things you want to do for that passion of yours, but you have resources. Your greatest resource is and will always be your relationships. You may need skills and you know someone who knows someone. You may need time. You know someone with some of that. You may need connections. Ask your people. I know it may seem like you got nothing, but I promise, you've got something. It may be a matter of building more relationships, because within those, that is where you'll find all those resources to truly do this thing right.

7. You may start feeling like a broken record: Your Facebook wall may be filled with posts promoting that fundraiser. Or that cause. Or that idea. People who don't quite understand our kind, may not want to hear about it anymore. Or they may quietly unfollow. That's ok. World changing requires a lot of noise. A lot of rooftop yelling because we don't live in a world where infrequent whispers get any coverage. No, it requires a whole lot of squeaky wheels to get some grease. Don't be afraid to ask. Again. Or to mention it. Again. Or to post it. Again. Sometimes you got to beat the gong for people to awaken to the harsh realities of this place and how YOU are trying to change one of them.

If you do it right, you're going to be poured out at the end of each day. That's ok. It's when we are completely emptied that we can be filled up the most again. Keep running your race. Don't look around you or at how far you have to go, just keep looking up. That's what is going to get you to the finish line. Don't let the naysayers and the pessimists and the small thinkers keep you from going big on this. Those are the kinds of people who leave this place either just as they found it or worse. Don't let excuses keep you from doing your thing. There will never be a perfect time. There will never be enough of anything to make it work. Just take the first step. See where God takes you with it. The world has been changed by a lot of moms, a lot of college students, a lot of 9-5ers, a lot of __________________ (fill in your position here). Start small. Watch the small lead to the big. Ripple effects. Tipping points. It can happen, my friend.

So, to all the dreamers, the bleeding hearts, the lovers of fringe people, DO. YOUR. THING. The world will thank you for it one day.

Here's to all the world changers...
Until next time,
One of my favorite world changers...with her 75 bags of rice she collected...that time she was 6.

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