This week I was honored with an alumni of the year award from my alma mater, North Central University, in downtown Minneapolis, MN. There was a beautiful gala and ceremony and I was presented with a beautiful award, to celebrate spirit-filled leadership and excelling in service through career and community. The next day, Chris and I were invited to have lunch with the president and vice president of the college. Afterwards, we walked around campus and I reminisced about our dating days and all the hours spent in the practice rooms, playing piano and writing music and learning to conduct a choir. How does it simultaneously seem like yesterday AND like a million years ago??
Going back to my college is like seeing a map, all zoomed out. The two pins (college and now) are dropped and you see the twists and turns over the overall journey, but not all the details from the last 20 years. I know we have planted 3 churches and moved numerous times. Had 4 kids. Traveled. Lived. Loved. And while our business has grown and thrived like I never dreamed possible, this is not the life I thought I was going to live.
Back in college, we dreamed dreams that never came true.
I thought for sure I was going to be a music pastor and Chris would be the senior pastor and we would live in a parsonage somewhere.
I never dreamed I would homeschool my kids.
And yet, life takes on its own shape and here we are. 20 years later, with our own kid in college. At the banquet, I looked around and saw faces that have cheered me on and loved me the whole time. I saw professors who taught me and encouraged me and who have continued to teach faithfully for all these years.
Life isn't at all what I thought it would be, but it is sure sweet. And while I feel like I've hardly even begun to do the things I would like to do in life, I am so grateful for all the experiences that have gotten us here.
Sometimes it takes an award to make me slow down and see the big picture view. And I'm so grateful.
When I got home from the awards ceremony, I tossed and turned. I didn't fall asleep for a few hours. I kept thinking and thinking.
What was bothering me?
The next morning I woke up early and immediately thought two things:
1. Coffee. Now.
2. I'm gonna need a nap today.
Then I sat down and wrote this. It's the only way I could express the contrast of a fancy award downtown and life I really live, each and every day.
Maybe you can relate.
I’m making an impact.
I can’t always see it. Or feel it. But I know it’s there.
Mostly I am just throwing in another load of laundry. Putting away another lunch bag. Throwing away rotten vegetables. Making another list.
I’m listening to the teens and coordinating schedules. Buying another birthday gift and making more coffee.
I work when I can, as fast as I can, because time is limited. I think about work while I’m driving and in the shower and, yes, my mind wanders off when the husband is talking about sports again.
I know I’m making an impact. With every person I hire and every client I onboard. With every meeting I squeeze in and every decision that I pray about.
I’m making an impact. Even if it feels like 20 years have flown by and I’ve hardly made a dent in accomplishing my dreams.
Even when I fall short, fail, lose my temper, fall asleep crying. Even when I’m up too early, don’t get enough sleep, don’t make enough meals from scratch. I’m still making an impact.
With every hug and bandaid and email and Target run, I am being faithful and what else can I be?
I turn up my music in my van and pray fervently for wisdom. I sleep when I can and try to enjoy the moment. I take in the sunrise and the sunsets and my kids keep having more birthdays. I can’t wait for an empty nest and then I panic. How will I survive an empty nest?!?
Sometimes the world applauds and hands out awards and sometimes no one notices.
Sometimes the biggest and hardest decisions never get noticed and sometimes social media is both connection and a curse. All your celebrations flood my feed and I get the mail and change the laundry and wonder am I making an impact?
But I am. In my home. With my kids. In my community. To my friends. In the work that I do. I can’t always see it. I often miss it. Because real impact is in the ordinary. It’s in the every day moments. It’s often missed. But it’s the real impact. It’s the stuff that matters the most.
I just can’t always see it.
But I have to believe it’s there.
"Real impact is in the ordinary."
About the Author
I'm Jen Hickle. I love coffee, journaling, reading, and cozy winter evenings. A business owner for 20+ years, I can't imagine having a "real" job or getting up every morning to an alarm clock. I love my freedom and my family and the chance to encourage fellow business owners every day.