How to Leave a Lasting Mark in a Temporary World

How to Leave a Lasting Mark in a Temporary World

In January, I moved into my very own apartment. I loaded up my family's van with all of my bedroom furniture, bunches of clothes on jumbled hangers, boxes and boxes of books and knick knacks and everything I had accumulated in my 21 years of life. This was monumental. I finally had my own place. My own rent. My own bills. The next chapter of my life was beginning. I was an adult! A real one!

We lugged everything up the stairs and into my new little place and it began to look like my own space. I arranged the pieces of furniture I had in the best possible configuration, I hung art on the walls and tried to make it look as cute and cozy as I could. I've lived there for 9 months now, and something struck me as I was cleaning this weekend.

This is home, but it's temporary. My lease will end, my time here will be over. I'll move out and only a few holes in the walls from once-hanging frames and shelves will prove I had been there. There won't even be colored walls to blanket with white again-- I knew I wouldn't live there long enough to make painting worth it.

I lived among white walls, just waiting for the next place.

This past week, I sat in a circle of the best people I know in the bright and open concourse area of my church. I listened as the newest class of 10-month interns was introduced to the staff, fidgeted awkwardly as I, too, was introduced in my temporary role here. I heard our pastor speak to the five of us. We want you to make your mark here. We want you to make an impact. We want you to put your stamp on this place.

This, like my apartment, is temporary. But this time, I don't want to leave the walls white.

I want to dream big about the things I can do. I want to imagine the impossible and get messy making it happen. I want to see possibilities as tangible, attainable, doable, and then go do them. I want each day to be full of progress and purpose. I want to paint bold streaks of color, splatter it all around, mix, swirl, spill and create a work of art that is wild, free and beautiful.

Temporary doesn't mean don't exist here. Temporary doesn't mean don't make a mark here. Temporary doesn't mean tread lightly, just tiptoe, stay shy and quiet.

Things will be temporary at times. Internships will be for a summer, just a cluster of weeks with an end date on the calendar. Friendships will be for a season until paths part and distance creeps in. Living in a new city will just be a trial run until the next adventure, or maybe even home, beckons. Leases will be for just one year and won't be renewed.

This planet is temporary, too. This world, this sphere that's all we've ever known, will end. We are surrounded by things that won't last. Even our lives are temporary, like morning fog just here for a little while before it goes away, like fleeting vapors and gusts of wind.

But that doesn't mean we should tread lightly. Even the temporary is an invitation to dig in, settle down, grow roots, build things that last. Even the temporary is an opportunity to make things happen, to put in hard work, to be present in every second and intentional in the moment.

Next January, I'll move out of my apartment and a new resident will move in, and it will be like I was never there. In all the rest, though, I don't want my absence to be meaningless. I don't want to come and go and no difference to be made. I want to stop tiptoeing through my days and my life like I can't take up space here. I want to plant my feet firmly on the ground beneath me in this time of my life. I want to be here, really be here, be all in and on fire and ready to go. I want to throw splashes of color on the walls around me that are hard to scrub off because that color made a mark, the kind that brings smiles to faces and a slice of light and joy into dark or still places.

Even the fog that billows in and rolls right back out leaves wet kisses on your skin as a reminder it passed by. Let's abandon white walls and tiptoeing- let's splatter paint and sink down deep, even into the temporary.

Rachel Dawson HeadshotRachel Dawson is a writer of blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, daily journal entries and doodles. She blogs about her life and faith at and as part of the Rethink Creative Group. She is always reading, whether it’s C.S. Lewis or Timothy Keller, Twitter, her study Bible, or vegan and gluten-free cookbooks. She wholeheartedly believes in having adventures, having passion, sending snail mail, and having complete faith in the Lord. Find her on Twitter here or check her out on Facebook.

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