I was at the baseball field last week watching my son’s game when I heard a voice from behind me say, “Excuse me?” I turned around to see a man I vaguely recognized flanked by a boy I did not. He said, “You coached soccer a Mt. Zion right?” I quickly cataloged my memory to figure out if that was true, wasn’t entirely sure, but with the prompting nod of my quick-witted wife managed to answer “yes!” He went on to tell me that I had coached his son, the boy standing before me. And we chatted for a few minutes about his son and what he was up to today. It was a good conversation about a kid that I honestly had absolutely no memory of (I know that sounds terrible).
I coached that kid when my son (who is now almost ten years old) was three. That was seven whole years ago, and in so many ways it feels like an eternity to me. I can vouch that I was a terrible soccer coach, knowing very little about the game, but trying my hardest to make it fun for the kids, and memorable. I guess I succeeded in the later, it was memorable and thankfully so was I.
I say all of this to point out two things. First, we leave impressions on people that stick with them, sometimes to the point that they recognize you the better part of a decade later and it is up to us to make those impressions great. Second, I believe that we influence people in far more ways that we will ever know. My realm of direct influence while growing is humblingly small. But, I have a hope, a belief, that I’m influencing people more than I realize, improving their lives when they intersect mine.
I think in some way that is what we all want, to make people’s lives better as our lives diverge and then separate again. I want to be more thoughtful about that, and this was a great reminder.