The term “imaginary audience” was introduced by David Elkind to refer to the tendency of adolescents to falsely assume that their appearance or behavior is the focus of other people’s attention. I wonder if some adults don’t suffer from “imaginary insignificance”.
It seems that a lot of us don’t realize the impact we have on each other. If we aren’t at church, no one really notices. If I don’t go to _____, I won’t be missed. No one cares what I have to say.
This could also be called the “George Bailey Syndrome”. Remember how George, from It’s a Wonderful Life, thought he had not really made a difference in people’s lives? An angel came and showed him what life would have been like in Bedford Falls without him. Bedford Falls was a pitiful sight without him. The love and care that came from one man spread through out the entire town and it was a better place because of his influence.
We don’t know the impact that our small, godly lives have on others. But we know the impact of others on us. Perhaps it would do us good to reflect on the impact that others have made on us…and go ahead and take the leap….that we also have an impact on others.
Think about those people that have helped shape your life. My family is the number one influence on my life. My husband, parents and children profoundly effect how I live. Their love and support strengthen me and encourage me to live life boldly in the light as he is in the light.
Many others have shaped me, too.
I think of Mrs. Allen, who taught my Sunday School class in 2nd grade. She continued to talk to me as I grew older. She always called me by name and asked me how things were going.
There is Mrs. Shirley, one of my high school teachers, who would listen to my teenage thoughts for long periods of time without judgment.
Mrs. Curtis was another high school teacher. She specifically taught us about submission to your husband and love and care for your family.
I think of Brenda, who helped me as a young youth minister’s wife to plan events and figure out how much food to make. She showed me how to have groups of people over and make them feel welcome.
Then there is Amber with her sweet and gentle spirit who accepts me as I am and always believes in the best me. She listens to my ramblings and can separate the emotional baggage from the earnest resolve.
My friend, Jill, who with a joy for living and a heart for serving people, challenges me to live with a focus on Jesus and an eye on eternity.
Toni, who shares my love for animals, makes friends with everyone she sees. Her heart is so big, there is room for everyone!
This is a small handful of the many who have impacted my life and continue to shape me. It is hard to stop listing people.
I in turn must take the responsibility for the impact that my life has on other people, whether for good or ill.
I am not insignificant. You are not insignificant.
What I do or what I don’t do matters. I can’t pretend that no one notices… that no one is influenced by the choices I make.
What about you? Who are some of those people that have helped you live life more fully or more closely aligned with the character of God?