I used to think a person had to do something grand to change the world. You know, start an orphanage overseas in some poverty-stricken nation. Lobby for policy change on Capitol Hill. Operate a nonprofit with impressive influence. At one point during nursing school, I even considered quitting and moving to Africa. I remember thinking, “Maybe then I can really make a difference for someone.” Of course there are so very many problems with that line of thinking, but do you want to know one of the primary reasons why I can’t help but laugh, groan, and roll my eyes at my younger self? I myself was raised by a band of ordinary radicals.
Can I tell you a story? Once upon a time, there was a man who poured out his life day in and day out loving people. It wasn’t glamorous work, though. In fact, most days it looked like climbing in the car and driving to the local middle school. It looked like memorizing the names of squirrelly middle school students before they ever walked into his classroom just so he could call them by name on the first day. It looked like writing long letters to people he loved and people he really didn’t even like all that much, just to tell them they were valuable and a gift to the world. It looked like returning home after a long day and playing kickball with his kids, even though he probably would have preferred drowning out the chaos with a blaring television. It looked like giving rides to the elderly man who had no friends or family. His love was not extravagant or flamboyant. It was simple, quiet, and revolutionary.
My dad changed my world with his love. And because of his ordinary but radical love, I hope that I am more likely to ask my waitress her name before she takes my order. I hope that I am more intentional about asking the man I meet on the corner about his story. I hope I value and accumulate moments of deep relational connection with others over money or possessions. I hope that my dad’s ordinary radical love continues to change the world through me.
If I could sit across the table from you, my friend, I would grip your hands and ask you how you are changing the world today. Because you are. When you pick up that screaming babe and feed her for what feels like the thousandth time today, you are changing the world. When you climb in the car to tote your kiddos to yet another soccer practice, you are changing the world. When you ask intentional and thought-provoking questions at a work meeting you wish you could have skipped, you are changing the world. When you ask your neighbor how he is doing and wait to hear his answer, you are changing the world. When you hone the perfect poem, or arrange a beautiful bouquet, or brew the perfect cup of coffee to be sipped and enjoyed by someone else…you are changing the world. I know this because I myself was raised by a band of ordinary radicals, and my world was transformed because of their faithful, intentional, mundane acts of love. You and I? We can be ordinary radicals. All it takes is faithfulness in the mundane. Intention in a haphazard world. The gift of time when so many are wasting it.
You and I? We can be ordinary radicals. So whose world will you change today?