The number of ripples caused by one small stone tossed in water, no one will ever know. And the ripples caused by one small deed are never fully known, though, from time to time, we get a little glimpse of the impact. We don’t do kind deeds for the thrill of hearing the impact, however, when a testimony comes back, it serves to encourage us in our journey.
The tall ‘guest’ at our church breakfast, seated herself across the table from me. We introduced ourselves and were soon engaged in warm conversation. She looked familiar, but I wasn’t able to place her. I meet people everywhere, all the time but usually I’m able to make the connection. This time I couldn’t.
We chatted about work and the normal things women like to talk about. She talked about her family, becoming a Grandma and the wonderful things that go with it. My oldest, at that time, was about fourteen years old—a very different phase of life.
At one point she paused. “You look very familiar,” she said. “Have we met before?”
I told her I had been wondering the same thing. Suddenly it connected, when she said something about her home church. She caught the moment of revelation and asked where we had met.
“It’s a story I’d rather share in private,” I replied.
She approached me after breakfast and we removed ourselves from the rest of the women. I was a bit nervous, not knowing for sure what the connection would do to her heart, but knowing I needed to tell her.
“We met briefly at a baptism at your church. It is the only time that we met before today. It was your son’s fiancée’s baptisms, shortly before they broke the engagement.”
A look of shock crossed her face as the rest of the story registered. “Are you…. Are you the woman who exposed the affair?” Tears filled her eyes.
In an instant I was in the arms of this virtual stranger. “Thank you! Thank you!”
She talked of the disappointment and the grief at the initial discovery that the young woman, who was about to become her daughter-in-law, had been caught in the affair and remained unrepentant. Her spirits lifted as she shared how her son, after he had recovered from the betrayal, found a lovely young woman, married her and went into ministry. We chatted a few moments and then parted ways.
In the years that followed exposing that affair, I struggled from time to time. Had I done the right thing? Should I have waited and watched it play out? The man in the affair was in a position of ministry leadership and many trusting people were at risk of betrayal. As it was, many were betrayed. Still, even knowing that, I questioned at times whether I should have been silent.
That day, when I met the mom and she wept as she thanked me for saving her son from a tragic marriage, I knew I had done the right thing.
I have since faced similar situations in my life, where I’ve had to make tough decisions. At times since then I have been tempted to turn a blind eye, to ignore the call to a difficult task, but each time, when I recall the woman, with tears in her eyes, and hear her saying, ‘thank you’, I choose the hard road.
I will never know the ripple effects… Do they ever really end? Do they disturb things they should not–maybe distort a photo of a reflection, disrupting someone I don’t even know is out there? Do the ripples make any difference at all?
The outcome, at the end of the day, is not my responsibility. I toss the pebbles in the water and leave the ripples to go where God takes them.
© Trudy Metzger 2012