As you look back at your life can you remember any small rather insignificant events, at least from your perspective at the time, that later in your life in hindsight created a significant impact. That would be a butterfly effect. Andy Andrews discusses this in a short motivational book, The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters. Simple Truths has a short video about Andy’s thoughts on the topic. First take a few moments to click on the title and consider some key thoughts from his book:
Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters (Click to watch video)
The Butterfly Effect is based on the work of mathematician Edward Lorenz, who hypothesized in the 1960’s, if a butterfly would flap its wings and set the molecules of air in motion would it set off a tornado somewhere else in the world? It may seem like a silly concept but the principle idea that flows out of the idea is that small events in life can have a larger impact in our life and/or the world further down the road of our life journey.
Andy Andrews uses that principle to look at several examples of people who would be considered insignificant if it were not for butterfly effects in their lives. One example is Norman Borlaug, known as the man who fed billions. He was an agricultural scientist who did work in a research center in Mexico in developing a sturdier strain of wheat. This wheat was used in India and Pakistan and later used to help millions in Africa and Asia. Andy points out that this great success came to him through a small effect of a Vice President under FD Roosevelt, who helped form the research center in Mexico and hired Norman to work there. One could question whether Norman would ever have achieved this if that Vice President had not hired him.
The Butterfly concept is part of what is called chaos theory. Basically it looks at how we live in an unpredictable world of chaos. Of course from my worldview as a Christian I see the chaos as a result of a fallen world that is not how the Creator God designed it to be due to humankind’s choice to reject His authority. Through the chaos I see every day that God is creating a tapestry. Just like if you have ever seen a rug being made it looks like a mess until finished. Or also I liken it to viewing a beautiful pattern of a rug then turning it over only to see a chaotic mess of knots.
The book and the video by Simple Truths make us look at the big questions – Do I really make a difference in life? Do I really matter? The video reminds me of what Andy Andrews is saying, “Everything you do matters. Every move you make, every action you take…matters.” With God in the picture we do matter. We are each unique and are created to be difference makers in the world. We may not create a food product that saves billions of lives from famine. But each one of us can make an impact on those around us. That impact only time and history will reveal in the future.
This further reminds me of the importance of our choices and how we live. To be difference makers we need to consciously be aware that our actions can make effects for the positive or the negative in our future and the future of others around us. With each action we make, we then create a reaction in the world. With each decision we make there are consequences that affect our lives which then create new decisions. In this process we can either spiral down in negativity or spiral upwards in a positive direction. I choose to spiral upwards.
Reflection: Can you think back in your life history to an event that at the time seemed insignificant but now in your life you can see it played a major impact? Quiet your mind and visualize that moment in time. What was going on in your life then? What elements of the event created the later effect in your life?