Sunday, August 16, 2009

Changing Lives - One Person at a Time

Today's entry is on the power of one person to change the life of another, sent to me this week by a friend. You never know how something you will do will affect the life of another, be it something positive or negative. We all have pivotal moments in our lives, where the words of or actions of another changed things around completely.

A few years ago, I made the effort to contact those people who had had such a powerful impact on my life, and thank them. In many cases, they didn't even remember the moment that so clearly defined a change in perspective for me. But that doesn't matter. That simply goes to prove that you never know, and when an opportunity arises, if you respond with compassion and kindness, there's a chance that you can literally turn a person's life around. (The opposite is also true, but that's not what I'm talking about.)

I woke up this morning to the realization that we're all connected. Of course I've known that for years, but this morning the feeling is especially strong and at the forefront of my mind. Probably since for the first time this summer, yesterday I got out into the streets at a festival, and had the opportunity to listen to some great music and do some focused people watching. And as I did so, I thought, "I live in a world that is seriously disconnected from all of this."

But I don't, and that's why the feeling of connection is so strong this morning. It just took me a little time to put it all in perspective.
Even as I logged onto the internet this morning, and waited while that little sign said "Connecting..." I thought, "How true. The internet is allowing me to connect with you, my blog readers."
Who knows how what you read in these blogs will affect your life, and then go on to affect the lives of others? From the emails I get, I am having an effect, and that's a good feeling all around. I don't do it for the warm fuzzies, though. As I said when I started this blog I'm doing it simply because I'm 50 years old and figured I have a few things to say, and if I don't say them now, they may never get said. 
But the decision to post them here has had some remarkable results. And not just in my life.

That said, I'm going to share with you this story of how one person changed the life of another. I don't know these people, and Snopes doesn't have anything saying its untrue, but whether it is or not is not the point. The point is that yes, it is that simple.
The power of one sentence!
The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.
"Leave me alone," he growled... To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.
"Are you hungry?" she asked.
"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the President.. Now go away."
The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
"What are you doing, Lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone."
Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.
"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"
The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"
"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."
"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything.."
"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered. "Don't blow it."
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.
"What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this, is this man in trouble?"
"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.
"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled.
"Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"
"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."
"And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"
"What business is that of yours?"
"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."
The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a laugh. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"
"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."
"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"
"Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice."
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."
The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.
"That was not my intent....Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this." She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. "Jack, do you remember me?"
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."
"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."
"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry."
"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."
Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."
"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be allright."
"So you started your own business?" Old Jack asked.
"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.
"There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he asked.
"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. He led me to you."
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.
"Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.
"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And...And thank you for the coffee."
Have a Wonderful Day. May God Bless You Always and don't forget that when you "cast your bread upon the waters," you never know how it will be returned to you. God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love and so small He can curl up inside your heart. When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go. Only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!

Me, I'm learning how to fly. So have a blessed day and remember to be a blessing.


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Liana,
No matter how many times I read that story it still touches me. I don't know how many of us could help just by giving a stranger a smile or a kind word. It doesn't take money or wealth to pass on some of your blessings. And it might change someone's day for the better. Thank you for your blog.

Unknown said...

Whether true or not - this story has always touched my heart. I too believe that we are all connected and have an unlimited capacity to have an impact on the lives of those around us. The most rewarding are the ones that are we are not aware of at the time but later prove to have been exactly what somone else needed at the time - no matter how small. It truly is the little things that seem to have the largest impact.

Unknown said...

stories don't need to be true to have truth in them. :) Have a blessed day, Liana.

Diane Craver said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing, Liana!

LK Hunsaker said...

Should I say you made me hungry with that photo?

Beautiful story and things do tend to work that way if we allow it.

Mona Risk said...

Beautiful story, Liana. Some people touch our life by what they say and other by what they do. You Liana have taught me to see that there is good even in a jail.

Hywela Lyn said...

What a wonderful story Liana, I hadn't read it before, and whether it's true or not, it reinforces my own belief that the greatest thanks one can give a person who's done us a kindness is to return that kindness - and not necessarily to the same person. Thanks so much for sharing