The Butterfly Effect and Me

Can one mundane decision change your life? Many of us would like to think that the little decisions we make are just that…little…insignificant…you know, mundane. At one point I may have agreed with you. Not now. Why you ask? The butterfly effect.

What is the butterfly effect? Aside from being an Ashton Kutcher movie, it is also a scientific theory that the beat of a butterflies wings on one side of the world can cause a chain of events that causes a hurricane on the other side of the world. I’m not a scientist, so check out Wikipedia for that story, but what I do know is small things (or choices) can cause big results.

I could catalogue many different little things that have turned out to be big, but I will offer these two:

1. It was the spring of 1998. I was a sophomore in college and in serious need of community. I had moved a couple of hundred miles away from home to follow my dream of being an opera singer…ok, that wasn’t my dream, but I was a vocal major for a couple of years and opera may have been involved…and I didn’t have a lot of friends. So, I started attending the Baptist Student Union on campus. It was full of cool people and I really enjoyed drinking soda and playing ping pong.

One of the guys that I met there, Matt, was a student at the university and also the college pastor at a local church. He invited me and anyone else interested to come with him to Bible study at the church…more free food was involved, so naturally I was in. I enjoyed being around Matt. He was funny and a good dude. So, as I had the chance I tried to get more involved.

On April 1st of 1998, a fool of a day, I went out to meet Matt at the church. While we were walking in, a very pretty blonde haired lady was walking out. Matt introduced us and we went on about our days. I had no idea that I had just met my future wife…who I have been married to for over 20 awesome years.

Going out to the church was not a mission to meet girls. It was just a simple decision that led me to the most wonderful friendship I have ever know. Who knew that free food and ping pong could lead to so much good?

2. When my bride, Marixa, and I got married we were very much in love. It is a good thing too, because we barely had two pennies to rub together. So, we had a small apartment and both got jobs to pay the bills. I became a music/youth leader at a church and Marixa went to work at a beauty salon. (That is what they call places where they do nails, hair, massages and all that stuff right?)

Marixa did her best to fit in and soon became friends with one of the ladies at the salon. We were soon hanging out with her friend from work and the friend’s fiancé, J. We really enjoyed their company and were friends for a quite a while.

A few years passed and I was no longer working in churches and was in a job that I, quite frankly, hated. The office I worked in had more cigar smoke in it that a biker bar. The owner of the business smoked 4-6 stogies a day…10 feet from my desk. I was an “office manager” which basically meant a glorified step-and fetch. No bueno.

On day, J called me and asked me to send my resume. He was working for a really good company and they needed an entry level person. At that point, I didn’t care what I needed to learn…it sounded awesome and I wanted the job. I mean, they got to go to work and have fresh air?!! Soon after I was in an interview, and then hired into an entry level job, and then promoted, and then, and then…that was almost 12 years ago.

Marixa taking a job at a beauty salon and befriending cool people has led me to a career I love, doing a job I would t have known how to describe back in the day. (As a side note, I did not finish the music degree and my twenty year old singing self would be disgusted with my 40 year old data manager self…oh well!) I can’t even imagine where we would be without the events I described above taking place.

These things seemed mundane at the time. They were small day to day things that have led us down an amazing path. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I can name several other things that have been equally as impactful, for either me or those very close to me.

I can’t even begin to describe how crazy thankful I am for these small things. Interestingly enough, both of the people that helped initiate these changes in my life have been out of my life for quite some time. In both cases, life took us all different ways. I am thankful for the time I spent with them and the positive influence they had on my life, whether they realized they did at the time.

Have you had a similar experience? Finding those amazing small things in your life brings into focus how important it is to live in the present every day. I pray I have been a help to others the same way these to awesome people were to me.

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