It all started on January 25, 2011 when JP and I went to get dinner at Smoothie King after working out. On the bottom of my receipt it said, "Be the Active Ingredient". It struck a cord within me and I knew one day it would turn into a blog post. (That's the thing about being a writer, I never know where my next inspiration will come from.) Little did I know, God would make me wait SIX months! I have no idea why, but everytime I went to write, I heard, "wait". So I did. It wasn't until this afternoon that He gave me the OK to write about it!
Let me explain what this little phrase has come to mean to me over the past six months!
When I first started doing some research about active ingredients, I wanted a simple definition, however that's not readily available. Try this one on for size: "Active ingredients are components in a drug which provide some pharmaceutical value, in contrast with the inactive ingredients, which act as carriers to make the drug easier for the body to process. The term “active ingredients” is also used in the pesticide industry to describe the active pesticides in a formulation. In both cases, these ingredients are literally “active,” performing a specific function upon application or ingestion."
Or in laymen's terms: When something or someone has been added to a certain situation, it/we have the potential for greatness. Or, at the very least, change. Ahh, change. I have a love/hate relationship with that word, but more on that another time.
Anyone has the potential to BE the active ingredient! It just takes a little extra effort on your part. Are you up for the challenge? If you'll remember our complicated definition from above, the last phrase is the most important, "active ingredients perform a specific function upon application." Let's talk more about that, shall we?
April 27, 2011, a day Alabama won't soon forget. JP and I had the pleasure of volunteering through Church of the Highlands that very next Saturday. We met at the Dream Center with our red SERVE t-shirts and were immediately sent within the community. They piled us in the van, heading for Pratt City. I have to say, first, I've never heard of Pratt City until we were there. And second, it was an extremely surreal experience. We had no real idea of what to expect. We didn't even know what the damage would be like. Let me just tell you, pictures do not do it justice.
There were two major active ingredients within the volunteer efforts: our Highlands red tshirts and food. It was amazing! They were the secret keys to get us beyond the police barricade and into the front lines. "Oh, you're with Highlands? Come on through." or "Oh, you've got food for us, sure, come on through." It was like having a "Golden Ticket".
Once we got into the main part of Pratt City, it looked like a bomb had gone off. We all just stopped and looked around. Twisted metal. Tree stumps as far as you could see. Houses either completely gone or in complete ruin. We even saw a matress speared through a remaing branch on a remaining tree. I know you've all seen pictures by now, but until you've actually been there. Met the people who's lives have changed forever. Talked with the kids who are trying to act like it's a normal day. Served food to families with only the clothes on their backs... you'll just never understand.
I don't say any of this to brag on anything great JP and I did. There were COUNTLESS volunteers that day. We met a lot of great people, all with hearts of service. I would say that's another active ingredient: a heart of service. Once we got our feet in the door, then it was up to us how to serve using the strengths God gave us.
At one point, we (about 15 of us total - 3 in the cab, the rest in the back) all piled into JP's pickup, went further into the community and delivered tons and tons and tons of water. What a site we must have been! I remember starting to cry at first... the devestation...was unreal! Even now, I have a mind's eye view and my eyes fill with tears. I felt so helpless. What could I do to help these people? I decided right there and then, I would do whatever it took. I would get out of my comfort zone and love on strangers. I met a lot of amazing strangers that day. I pray they are doing OK.
Since then, I've realized that anything can be a catalyst to cause an active ingredient explosion in any given situation! You never know the potential impact you might have in someone's life. For instance, I tweeted/Facebooked where JP and I were and that Pratt City needed more volunteers. Later in the day, we went back to the Highlands Command Center (where all the military, police and utility workers came for food and drink) and my friend Mandy was there. She said she read
on FB what I said and she and her husband came to volunteer. My decision to ask for help (something I've also been learning this year) resulted in two more amazing volunteers.
My examples go on and on, but the point I'm trying to get across to you is that it doesn't take Super Man to be the active ingredient in someone's world! Everyone has the chance every single day to make a difference! Whether it's making conversation with the grumpy clerk at Walmart or Publix, trying to illlicit a smile from them. Or allowing someone in on the road, even though they cut you off a few miles back and you're still steaming about it. Go on, let them over. Or if someone let you over, wave at the person to tell them thanks. So many examples!
My challenge to you, dear friends, be the active ingredient in your world of influence! You never know how your own decision might affect someone's life.. for eternity!! Wow, what a responsibility. Remind yourself daily. I still have my Smoothie King receipt in my wallet. Each time I open it, I'm reminded of the lesson God's been teaching me.
"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. - Napoleon Hill"