One instance in particular, affected so many people. When I was 18, I eloped. I thought I was being grown-up and doing something that would save my folks the cost of a wedding and that what my guy and I did really didn't affect anyone but us. Now, in hindsight, I see how many people that irresponsible action affected.
I had a younger sister and I practically raised her; we shared the same bedroom for 17 years. When I eloped, it took years for me to find out how crushed she was to be suddenly alone and without me, and to not have even had a heads-up, no clue that it would happen.
My mom and dad had sort of expected me to eventually get engaged but not to elope. My sudden absence from the household income really threw them a curve. In addition, I had no clue until later that my mom had looked fondly toward her oldest daughter's wedding, even if it were very, very small - I ruined that for them.
I also didn't realize how many gossips would stress them out by inferring I was pregnant (I was not) and had to get married - they had to live that down while the gossips finally, months later, realized they were wrong.
His family was just as shocked and upset. And then there were the two of us. We didn't know each other well enough and didn't realize that back then; it messed up our lives from the get-go.
That's just one example. There are many, many more through the years, both in my own life and in the lives of those I know.
The Lord put us all on this planet and every one of us ends up crossing paths with someone each and every day. Even my brother who is a bit reclusive touches base on the internet daily and with customers on the phone. Each person we touch is affected by us and our actions and our attitudes. In turn, they affect others.
Father, please fill me with the grace to touch gently those you put in our lives each day, and to realize that our words and actions affect others.