Reverb 17: making a difference

Day 17: How did you make a difference?

Think of one person whose life you made a difference to in 2012.

What did you gain from this?

How will you continue to make a difference in 2013?

This one was difficult.

First it hit me in the self-esteem. What have I done this year to make a difference to someone else’s life? Precious little. I have bought a Big Issue here and there… I found it very difficult to put my finger on one action that made one difference to one life. In fact, the only event that feels like it fits the bill is a tweet from one of my friends, saying that they had found one of my posts helpful, when they tried to get their head around synodfail.

What did I gain from this? Validation, I suppose, affirmation, a sense that my maunderings made sense to somebody outside my own head but inside the whole mess. The encouragement to continue to share? But my sense is still that I am the prime beneficiary here, that it was all for myself first and foremost.

In my head I have John Donne saying that no man is an island, and Carl Sagan telling me that, if I want to make an apple pie from scratch, I must first invent the universe.

There is nothing that I can do that will make a difference to somebody else without also making a difference to me. I will never know what difference I can make to someone else, because I can never get outside the fishbowl of my own mind.

And usually I am OK with that. I got used to the idea of being a cog in a machine long ago. I am – usually – quite happy to be a cog in a machine, so long as the sausages that come out of that machine are known to be good. I would rather – usually – be a good cog than an indifferent fork.

This year, that doesn’t seem to have been quite enough for me, and I’m not quite sure how to move it on. I think I need to reach out more, to open myself up more, to find a way of doing more without over-committing myself. To find something worth doing outside work and church, because those are two institutions that have been driving me right up the wall recently, and I’ve been beginning to doubt that I can make a difference in them.

See more people. Know more people. Love more people. See more of the people I know; know the people I know better; love the people I know.

Goodness only knows what that’s going to look like. We’ll see.

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