Today was a day marked by change. I had to fight back tears as I watched some of my students clear off their desks. Tonight, as I sat front row, I watched young men and women walk the aisle, never to set foot in this school as a student ever again. My moment in their lives had finished. My time, my opportunity to influence them, to be a tool used in their development, had ended. As they crossed that platform, and I snapped a picture of them receiving their diplomas, I had captured on film the very last moment that Miss Jessica would touch their life.
It made me think of where I have left my fingerprints. Did you know that you leave fingerprints on everything you touch? It's true. And those fingerprints are identifiable as yours. They are no one else's. They are yours. They prove that you touched whatever it is you touched.
When I touch a life, I leave a fingerprint. Now, it could either be one that helped to mold that life, or one that helped to push that life farther away. Either way, I have left a finger print. Every little thing I do leaves a fingerprint. Even something seemingly simple and insignificant.
Teaching is a big deal. It has been quite the year, and I do not take lightly the opportunity for ministry and impact that I have in the lives of my students. Because of that, it is sometimes easy for me to categorize my ministry. Now, teaching has become more important than scrubbing the toilet in the hall bathroom. Besides, no one sees me scrubbing the toilet, right? Everyone sees me teaching. Though I don't do it for recognition, I am well aware I am being watched by my students, my fellow teachers, and the parents of my students.
What I had forgotten was that the little things matter too.
Wednesday night I had every intention of sitting in on youth group once again. As I played sand volleyball with the teenagers, herds- yes, herds- of AWANA kids came out to play on the inflatables set up in the field behind me. My mother was leading the way, and I ran up to make sure she was OK (she has been suffering from an allergic reaction or something) and, due to my proximity to the moon bounce, I was shanghaid into running the moonbounce.
In that moment, I was given a choice, and it was one I negotiated bitterly. I really really really wanted to go back and work with the teenagers, but looking into the hyper eyes of fifteen 5-9 year-olds and then the eyes of their worn out and well outnumbered leaders, I struggled. There were four more groups like this one. My decision was made. So, I kicked off my shoes and initiated the moon bounce :-D
No one asked me to, it is just something I did. I barked out orders, gave the rules and timed the bounce time. I was flung back into my first year of Bible school when, as a member of the Children's Ministry Team, I did this very thing. Fond memories. I sat there, watching these children jump and leap and twist and laugh, and couldn't help but laugh myself. Somehow, I had captured joy. There it was, trapped inside four inflatable walls, and the youth just 50 yards away inside their thin walls faded from my mind. The whistle blew, and off the little ones were to the next activity.
At the end of the night, I kicked into tear down mode. Thankful for the training in college, I tore down one of the moon bounces and had it nearly rolled up before 'the men' were there to help.
No one would remember my name. I added to no one's fun. All the kids will remember is the bouncing they did in the moon bounce and how much fun the moon bounce was. I was blessed, but figured I had been the only one. And that would have been fine. I was raised that you take pride in your work regardless of how insignificant or unimportant it may seem. I figured I was the only one who cared how well I could count three minutes. Tonight, I found out I was wrong.
After all of the emotion of graduation. After watching my eleven seniors walk that aisle, a father pulled me aside. I have worked with his daughter this entire year as she has struggled to finish on time and well. She has come over to my house even for some late-night study sessions in order for her to pass her trigonometry. She has spent countless hours at my desk, patiently waiting for me to work with my geometry kids. She did it. She graduated valedictorian. Her father, however, is also the Awana leader at the church. His wife is my boss.
Of all the things he could have said. All the things he could have thanked me for. He did not thank me for helping his wife this year. He did not even thank me for teaching his daughter. He thanked me for running that moon bounce. He said he was refreshed by the fact that someone was willing to step up and help. All I did was stood on the grass (in bare feet) and tell them when their three minutes was up. Anybody could have done that. The key is, somebody did.
No, the whole world doesn't care who ran the moon bounce. There will be no thank you speech six years from now with some kid thanking me for teaching him how to tell time, but I left a fingerprint.
Everything you touch will bear your fingerprint. Everything you do not touch will not bear your fingerprint. I have to say that I believe the more you touch, the more you bless and the more you will be blessed.
Where did you leave your fingerprints today?