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Beth Graybill

  /  Articles   /  Are You Paying Attention to Your Shape?

Have you ever stopped to notice your affect on the people around you? Or how about the way those people affect you?

One of our favorite summer traditions is taking a trip back east to rural West Virginia. Deep in the heart of the Appalachian mountains is the family farm we go to retreat from the busyness of life. Below the old farmhouse runs the Cheat River—a river well-known to whitewater rafters, kayakers, Civil War history buffs, and the locals who love to talk about floods in years past. And the Cheat rises quickly with rain, and drops fast at the slightest hint of drought. Most of our little trips to WV involve some kind of swimming or canoeing adventure on the river—except for a few summers ago.

That summer,  the river was so low we could barely swim. We were disappointed by the lack of water adventure, yet enamored by what we found on the bottom of the dry riverbed: smooth black river rocks. These beautiful river rocks were shaped by hundreds of years of water current, thousands of rafters and river adventurists, First Americans, Civil War soldiers, Pioneers, Miners looking for Gold, and people like my family who settled there to farm and live off the land.

These smooth river rocks reminded me of what author Ruth Haley Barton, says,

“Human beings in community are like rocks in a riverbed;  we are shaped by the flow of life in communities we are a part of.   

Part of our calling as Leaders is to be brave enough to ask the question: ‘How does life in this community shape me and shape others?’”

Every time I read that passage, my mind fills with vivid images of those smooth black river rocks–some big, some small, some smooth and some still rough around the edges—and I wonder about my own life.

And I want you to wonder about yours too . . . How are you being shaped by the people around you?  And how are you shaping the people around you with your words and your actions?