Looking Back On 2018

I can’t believe it.

The year 2018 is almost over.

In a few days, a new year will begin. Some will resolve to quit smoking. Some will make efforts to eat healthier. Exercise more. Drop a few pounds. Be a better person.

These are all lofty goals, although I’d argue that you never have to wait for a new year to begin to make positive changes.

For me, the end of a year is a time for reflection. What did I accomplish in 12 months? Am I a better person than I was 365 days ago? Am I a better writer? Did I learn anything of value? Did I help anyone who needed it? Did I make anybody smile or laugh? Did I enrich their life in some small way?

And this one stings a little.  Did I brighten someone’s path? Did I make a difference in anybody’s life?

I told a fib.

That one stings A LOT. That one shoves a Gibraltar-size lump down my gullet. I’m not sure how I rank in the difference-making business. I can’t guarantee that I’ve impacted anyone’s life this year in any way. I don’t know for sure that I’ve lifted a burden off a shoulder, or fed a mouth, or inspired anyone to do good, or encouraged someone who didn’t think they could make it or offered a hand to someone clinging to the end of their rope.

You see, I’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve been that person whose burden was lifted, who was able to buy food because someone reached out to help, who was encouraged to keep hanging on when I was sinking in despair. I’ve been that guy clinging to a rope coated with grease, holding on for dear life and praying I wouldn’t fall into the abyss.

If you’ve never known the feeling of overwhelming gratitude, that intoxicating high of relief when someone slips a few crisp bills or a folded check in your palm or lightens your load just when you need it most, you need to take it for a test drive.  It’s an awesome feeling.

Someone out there is fighting a battle you may not know about. Somebody needs a Good Samaritan to pick them up and nurse their wounds. Somebody needs to see that someone else cares about them. Somebody needs you to reach out and pull them off that greasy rope and save them from the abyss.

Somebody needs you to make a difference in their life.

Maybe it’s helping them change a tire. Maybe it’s slipping a few dollars in their pocket for groceries so their kids can eat. Maybe it’s paying a power bill so they’re not sitting in a dark house eating cold bologna sandwiches by candlelight.

Maybe it’s just saying, “You know, you’re good at this. You have a talent. Don’t quit.”

I know what you’re thinking. “What can I do? I’m just one person. I’m nobody.” To someone out there, you’re a person who cares about them. Sometimes that’s worth a burlap sack full of shiny, gold bricks to a person who has all but given up on humanity.

I heard a song a few years ago by the Oak Ridge Boys that I think sums it up quite nicely:

Did I make a difference in somebody’s life?
What hurts did I heal? What wrongs did I right?
Did I raise my voice in defense of the truth?
Did I lend my hand to the destitute?
When my race is run, when my song is sung
Will I have to wonder, did I make a difference?

Did I make a difference?

Happy New Year. And thanks for reading.  78




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