I was drinking a beer at a party at work. My friend, Dave*, started talking to me about an event – Life Enrichment Boot Camp – he attended that changed his life. He told me that it saved his marriage. He had the divorce papers completed. All they needed was a signature. He went to this event with his wife. His marriage was turned around. He told me about how the event helped him to dump baggage, come to terms with his past and move on with his life. He told me to let him know if I was ever interested in going to this Boot Camp.
I was in a depressive funk a couple of months later. I remember Dave telling me about this Boot Camp. I reached out to him. He told me when the next one was scheduled. I asked him how much it was. He told me that he and his wife would cover most of it. Normally, I’d say no to such an offer. For some reason, I said yes.
I showed up to this 4 day program skeptical. It’s funny how I can want or need help badly, ask for it, accept it and continue to fight against and doubt it. I’m always looking for the angle. I was paired up with this girl as a ‘buddy’ the first night of the event. She dealt with me, my sarcasm and skepticism. She told me during a drill on the second night to cut the crap, I was distracting her and other people. Her wish for me was that I give my 100% and take the event seriously. I heard her. I took it seriously. I graduated a couple of days later.
The next month I started working with that program. It was the first of the 50+ events I worked with them. The girl who I was buddied with started working there, too. I’ve worked with thousands of people at that program. I’ve seen lives changed. Hearts healed. Marriages restored. Individuals made whole, sometime for the first time in their lives. I wouldn’t have contributed to these thousands of people if Dave had not contributed to me. Dave made a difference to thousands.
Years later I chose to be baptized. Dave celebrated my baptism with me. He and his wife gave me a beautiful heavy, large stone with a cross carved in it that I cherish. It sits on my desk in front of me as I write.
A year later, Dave met me to talk over a beer. The girl who was my ‘buddy’ at Boot Camp was about to become my bride. I had my fears, doubts and reservations. Dave encouraged me in the face of fears. He helped me find the man who was going to get married. He drew the man from out of the shadows of the boy who would’ve been walking down the aisle.
Dave was at my wedding. He celebrated with us that day. As happens at weddings, I barely saw anyone for more than a few minutes, Dave included.
Every now and then, I get a text message from Dave. He encourages me in my writing. He tells me that he reading and enjoying it. He told me that he’s passing along what I write to folks he works with. They are using it in their team meetings.
Sometimes writing this feels like talking to myself. There are days when it’s comforting to talk to myself. I can find myself in the writing. There are days when it’s a loneliness of sitting at the edge of a still lake on a moonless night 129 miles away from the nearest living thing. I can lose myself in the writing. Dave gives reassurance that the desolate lake is in my mind, not in this world.
All in all, Dave has spent a few hours with me in the past 7 years. A handful of conversations. A smattering of text messages. A few hundred minutes. Dave’s minutes led me to find my wife, get married, find my purpose, discover and fall in love with God, live with freedom that comes from forgiveness and grace, and tap into the courage to use my voice.
You make a difference. You have an impact. The question is ‘how?’. Do you encourage? Do you create laughter? Do you foster hope? Do you build others up … even when, especially when, you don’t feel like it? Or do you do something else…
We don’t know which of our minutes matter the most. We don’t know which interaction may fill someone else with new life. We don’t know when we might, unknowingly, fulfill our life’s purpose. It might not happen as we thought it would – it usually doesn’t. You might know that you did anything. It might not happen when we think it will. It might not take as long as you think. It might take less than a few minutes.
Your minutes matter.
Thanks for the minutes, Dave.