It Doesn’t Matter Whether You Make a Difference or Not

by | Nov 13, 2019 | Being an Educator, Journal | 0 comments

The other day, I finally took to the task of cleaning up the yard. I had many pots of dead flowers, bags of half-used soil, and at least 50 empty, plastic containers – the kind your plants come in when you pick them up at the nursery. Those I bagged up with the intent to take them to Lowe’s, where they collect them for reuse. As I was doing so, I couldn’t help but think of several articles and statistics I’ve read lately concerning how much good recycling plastic actually does. If you haven’t read them, the general opinion is: not a whole lot. Very little plastic that is put in recycling bins is actually recycled. This news was discouraging. I do my best to recycle, reduce use of plastic where I can, and choose ethically, environmentally-produced items when I can. I felt like my efforts were for nothing.

Last week, I shared a conversation with a self-contained teacher about discouragement of another kind. We were working with a non-verbal high school student who, despite having had an AAC device for years, had never received appropriate training and no longer had access to his own (lost? broken? we aren’t sure). The new school year has been a particular struggle for him and there have been many instances where his being able to communicate his needs would have been extremely beneficial for him and us. In that moment, we both felt a bit helpless and a bit like we were spinning our wheels. Without the cooperation across all of the student’s environments, how is what we are doing making a difference?

In the midst of my yard work, I thought of words I had read recently – that we would be judged one day on the stewardship of our time and resources. This niggled at my brain. And thenI realized something.

It’s not the results of our actions that matter – not when they’re done to the glory of God. It’s that we have done it and that it was to His glory.

You see, I realized then that I won’t be judged on whether or not my recycling is actually recycled. I’ll be judged on whether or not I cared enough about God’s command for me to “work and keep” the earth by stewarding its natural resources well.

I realized I won’t be judged on whether or not my students met all of their IEP objectives or how much their teachers and parents followed through with my suggestions. I’ll be judged on whether or not I cared enough about my students to work with them, advocate for them, and love them.

To make this even more clear, I read a Tweet yesterday about Jesus. Someone (I forget who) made the observation that we know pretty much nothing about Jesus’s life from age 12 to age 30. For nearly 15 years, Jesus lived an ordinary life, working with his father as a carpenter, learning the tenants of Judaism. It’s often overlooked, but it’s vital I think. In the liturgical year, Ordinary Time is not something to be passed over. Ordinary Time comes from the word “ordinal,” meaning “counted.” Counted Time. The time before Jesus’s official ministry counted, even if the results of them were not spiffy enough to be recorded in the Gospels. The results of Jesus’s actions weren’t necessarily important – it was important that he spent it stewarding the time God gifted him.

So, it doesn’t matter, does it? It doesn’t matter if what I’m doing day in and day out makes any noticeable, observable differences. It doesn’t matter if my recycling gets recycled or my students uses his AAC device flawlessly – it matters that I steward my time well. It seems a bit cliche but… God will take care of the rest.