Friday, September 19, 2008

The Butterfly Effect...


In science, mathematics, and popular culture, there is a concept known as "the butterfly effect," the idea being that something as small the movement of a butterfly's wings "might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location."



I've thought about that concept ever since reading about it with my 8th grade Sunday School class several days ago. With good reason...it's been a roller coaster of a week.

My days are generally VERY busy, but pretty consistent. I don't often have to deal with major ups and downs--emotional, physical, relational, or otherwise. This week was different.

It started Saturday with a 55-year-old woman from our church having a sudden and massive heart attack. If you'd looked around the church benches the week before, this is one of the last people you would have ever guessed was on the verge of death. She was extremely active, very involved in church work, and one of the first people you'd think of when you think of people from church. Although her death was far more than a mere butterfly wing, the tidal wave of consequences will be felt by many, many people for a very long time. I had the unfortunate experience of getting to tell my neighbor that this woman was dying. I left the conversation second-guessing myself... Could this really be? How could it be? Did I just imagine it all? It's just another reminder that nothing in life on earth is guaranteed.

The second thing that happened this week involved a government official. I needed a piece of paper from a certain government agency...a paper that I should have received at the beginning of August. I called to check on my status and was treated poorly. Those butterfly wings--coming from a stranger--hurt. I was nothing but polite. I was doing nothing but trying to help out another person. And I was treated like dirt. It didn't feel good.

That day, I ended up having to speak to the same official three times. (Not my intent, but that's how it worked out.) By the last call she said she'd pull my file, "BUT DON'T CALL HERE AGAIN THIS WEEK!!!!!" Believe me, by that time I was too scared to ever call there again. I felt beaten, bruised and worn out.

Two days later, I was shocked by a return call from the same official. She'd processed my file and called to tell me the good news. I told her I was about to cry with happiness. She said gruffly, "Don't do THAT!" Then I expressed thanks on my behalf and on behalf of the other person she was helping. She said "no problem" and the phone call ended. Her butterfly wings--both the good and the bad--had a huge impact on my life and the lives of others.

The last one? I had a very odd and kinda scary interchange with someone on the internet that I don't know. Without going into detail, this was a business interaction. Without ever saying that anything was wrong previous to this, this person wrote me a very long, threatening email. She made huge demands and assumptions, all based on paranoid/false information. I immediately did exactly as she asked, realizing that this person was probably a little unstable. But it left me sad on two accounts... She assumed the worst about me (none of which was true) and accused me of things that I hadn't done. In doing so, she ended a business relationship that would have hugely benefited her family and her "cause." For me it really didn't make any long-term difference (I didn't need anything from her), but I was very sad to be accused of something that I didn't do.

It's been a rollercoaster of a week. And made me think long and hard about the far reaching effects of butterfly wings...

Will you do something nice for someone today? Something that you might not normally do? And post it here for me to read?

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Richmomma,
Here's something that might cheer you up. I check very few blogs but always find a minute or two to check yours. I love your recipes (especially the lentils) and have worked with my kids on the "army crawl." I like your approach to things. You seem like a great mom and wonderful person. I am really sorry to hear about your friend at church. That is worth mourning over for a long time. However, one of the lessons I am trying to teach my 9-year old is not to take things personally when others are nasty, as it very, very rarely has ANYTHING to do with you and has everything to do with them. We all need to remind ourselves of that and try to detach emotionally from those rough situations. Just try to remember that! We all (me included) have to remind ourselves of that. I hope you have a terrific weekend!

richmomma said...

Anonymous, you're absolutely right. I even tell my kids the same thing. But I needed your reminder 'cause it definitely hasn't been my frame of mine this week. I'm rarely hit with this many negatives in one week. Thank you! I'm taking your words to heart and riding on them for the rest of the day. Your butterfly wings had their intended effect!!!! ;)

Thanks also for your kind words about my blog. I write for the fun of it and always hope that somewhere, somebody is getting something out of it.

Thanks again!

jennifer said...

Interesting bit of coincidence....the day you posted this was the day an entry entitled "The Butterfly Effect" was written in my Madeleine L'Engle Glimpses of Grace Daily Thoughts & Reflections reading. Her point for the concept was a lesson for the churches: "Separation from each other, and from the rest of the world is not only disaster for us, but for everybody from whom we separate ourselves...."
And this brought to mind the loss of the particular lady you mention. After her funeral I was asked to take a picture of a group of four ladies. A Bible Study group from years and years ago. Ladies who no longer all attended the church. Instead, life had taken them different ways and places. Still, this wonderful lady who left us without warning was a connecting point and they had come to remember/celebrate her life. At her service I was struck by the very many many different, widely varied communities of people she had touched. Somehow I think this is an important glimpse into the way we are called to live......our interactions & communities matter. Even the ones which leave us shaken........

richmomma said...

"I think this is an important glimpse into the way we are called to live......our interactions & communities matter. Even the ones which leave us shaken........"

Beautifully said!

Related Posts with Thumbnails