For some reason the other day I was reminded of something that happened at my church several years back and i thought i would share that story with you all today.
While I was in high school, i was fairly active in the youth group and would help out in church events whenever i could. One of my favorite things to help with was Vacation Bible School (or as it was called at that time Neighborhood Bible Time.) I love kids as a general rule, granted infants up to 2 years old I'm not quite as enthusiastic about, but once they can really interact with you on some form of intellectual level I'm good to go! So i always selected to be a helper in the Kindergarten age class because you can have a LOT of fun in those classes.
This one year there was one child in particular, let's just call him Jake, who kind of took a liking to me more than the other kids. Of course since i was becoming his favorite teacher, he would ask me anything and everything he could just so i could focus on him a little more, even if it meant asking me the same question over and over and over and over. His favorite question to ask me was "what's your name??" Of course i answered "Mr. Wes" for the first 15 or 20 times he asked me. As he asked me the next time i had had enough and wanted to just have fun with him. Every answer i gave him was something different from that point on. Bobby, Jehoshaphat, Gorilla Man, and many other names were tossed out at Jake. This child was very smart and quickly figured out the joke so then it became a game to see what the funniest thing i could come up with. After about five minutes, we had an apparent winner with Jake as i shouted out "FRANKENSTEIN!!!!" He giggled until he couldn't even color his paper anymore. His thirst for humor had been satisfied and he never asked me that question again. I thought that would be the end of it. I was wrong.
One Sunday evening service close to three months after Neighborhood Bible Time was over, i hadn't had any more interaction with this child. They usually sat two rows ahead of us but i was generally busy with other stuff before service that i never really stopped to chat. Now Jake's father, let's call him... Steve. Steve was a very friendly man but at the same time he was known by all to be a rather stern man too, especially while inside the church. It just so happened that the pew i normally sat on was full from guests that day so i simply moved up a row. I was just minding my own business when Jake turned around and saw me. As loud as he could be he shouted out "HEY THERE FRANKENSTEIN!!!" The next 20 seconds were like slow motion. I saw his father Steve whip his head around faster than I've seen a human being move with an outraged look on his face. I probably had a look of horror on mine as Steve bent down and started asking where he had heard such things and what possessed him to shout that out at someone in church! I quickly interrupted him and explained the situation as to how he knew that word and why he decided to call me that. Steve understood but i still don't think he quite appreciated the humor that Jake and I both knew to be golden.
Moral of the story
I learned a valuable lesson or two from this little adventure. First of which being that you should really watch what you say in church and around people in general because even if something is harmless, private, or just out of good fun, you never know what might come back to bite you. Sadly i tend to quite often forget this lesson and have to re-learn it over and over. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than i do.
Second and most important thing that i learned from this was that everyone will leave an impression on someone else. We may not even realize it when it's happening, but it will happen. It may also be the most random and tiniest bit of insignificant information, but whatever that moment is will last with them for a long time, maybe even forever. Take a moment to think about the people you interact with on a weekly basis, your family, roommates, teachers, classmates, random stranger you talked to today. Some of them may forget all about you, but some of them will remember you for years to come. I spent a summer semester at ETSU in biology classes with three people, Julia, Keval, and Adam. I haven't spoken to or seen them since 2005, but I will never forget how amazing and fun they were to be around for that brief period of time.
What sort of memory will you leave with the people you interact with? What sort of lasting impression do you want to leave? Every single story, joke, moment may not mean anything to you but it all builds up to the greater picture of who you are in their eyes. There will always be a moment that lasts of you in someone's heart. What will that moment be? Will you be known as this amazing person they were glad God allowed them to share a brief moment with you? Will you be known as a spiritual warrior who is leading a lost world toward Christ and following Him? Or will you be a cliff note along the path that will be forgotten, or someone who had no influence whatsoever?
This was my first attempt at something like this, so it was probably a little rocky and disjointed, but practice makes perfect after all. Will have more for you soon.