Have you ever made a difference? I know I have. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but it turns out my efforts truly did make a difference.
In December my church youth group decided to go caroling. I thought this was a really stupid idea. It was freezing and all we would be doing was singing to people who didn’t care. Even so, I decided to go so I could hang out with friends.
There was no one home at the first house. At the second we got to sing but not everyone knew the words and most were singing at different paces. We sounded horrible, so Brad and I did what most bored kids do - we goofed off, pushing each other down the slippery hills.
Eventually our leader told us to stop, worried that someone would get hurt. He also explained that to some, this singing meant something. Even though I felt guilty, I still didn’t think this whole caroling thing was important to anyone.
The third house is when it happened. Brad and I were the last to get there but when we did, some of the girls were crying. As I moved closer, I could see an old man in a hospital bed. He was hooked up to a ventilator that made him breathe funny. I guess that freaked out the girls, but I was used to that because of my grandfather. I didn’t think my singing would make a difference to this man, his daughter or his wife, but for some reason, I sang.
Even though I thought caroling was a waste of time, I still sang (even though not very well). After we were done, the man’s wife and daughter gave everyone hugs. That was when I knew I had made a difference. I could tell by the look in their eyes that it meant something. At the rest of the houses, we all sang. Even if we didn’t sound good or sing together, we sang.
The next Sunday my youth group met and we could tell our leader had something important to say. He told us that the man, the one with the ventilator, had died two hours after we left. Again, some of the girls started to cry. I thought, Great, one of this man’s last memories was of horrible singing. Then Mr. Benson said that the man’s wife wanted him to tell us that she was glad we had come caroling and that it had meant a lot, not only to her, but also to her daughter. That made me feel really good. It helped me understand that some things that don’t seem significant can be very important. I can make a difference.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.