While sitting here writing, I decided to take a break in order to return emails, check my twitter account and do a little reading. I came across this passage from a great book. I just have to share with you. It’s not long. Please read it all. It has a great message. Of course at the end I have issued a challenge.
The Simple Truths of Appreciation
by Barbara Glanz
When I speak about appreciation, I use this quote by Albert Schweitzer:
“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.”
Then I ask my audiences to please shut their eyes and think about someone, who at some time in their lives, has rekindled their inner light. I leave the room in silence for several minutes, and it is always a profound experience as they remember the joy they received from being appreciated by someone when they needed it the most.
Afterwards I ask them to write down the name of the person they thought of and to commit to their own act of appreciation by letting that person know in the next 72 hours that he or she was thought of. I suggest a phone call, a note, or even a little prayer if they are no longer living.
After one moving session, a gentleman came up to talk with me and thanked me for creating a new awareness in him. He said he thought of his eighth grade literature teacher because she was everyone’s favorite teacher, and had really made a difference in all of their lives. He planned to track his teacher down, and when he finally found her, he wrote to her.
The following week he received this letter:
You will never know how much your letter meant to me. I am 83 years old, and I am living all alone in one room. My friends are all gone. My family’s gone. I taught 50 years and yours is the first “thank you” letter I have ever gotten from a student. Sometimes I wonder what I did with my life. I will read and reread your letter until the day I die.
He just sobbed on the phone. He said, “She is always the one we talk about at every reunion. She was everyone’s favorite teacher – we loved her!” But no one had ever told her…until she received his letter.
Wasn’t that powerful? Showing appreciation is so important. So many times we think people know how we feel or how they have impacted our lives, but perhaps they don’t. Marriages break up because someone doesn’t feel appreciated. People leave churches and places of employment or even do worse things because they don’t feel appreciated.
Today I am going to piggy back off of Barbara and ask you to close your eyes and think about someone who has in one way or another inspired you or impacted your life for the better. Who is that person that gave you the extra push or encouragement when you were tempted to quit? Maybe there is a person that saw something in you that no one else saw. Maybe someone took you in their home for minute when there was trouble in your home. Maybe someone prayed for you or made you laugh when your life was in turmoil. Who is the person that made a difference in your life? Was it a parent, a teacher, or a childhood friend? It could have happened last week, last decade, or even longer. Maybe there is more than one person. Write their names down.
Now commit to writing and sending them a letter of appreciation during the week you are reading this. You may have to track some people down. If you do, than do it. After you have found them, write and send off the letter. A handwritten letter is always nice because it is personal and it can be a keepsake to read over and over again. Write the letter. Let it come from the heart. My friend Sharon Lawrence-Taylor always tells me “What comes from the heart, reaches the heart!” If you can’t send a handwritten letter, email them or call them on the phone. You may never know what it would mean to them. You don’t know what someone might be going through. Your appreciation might be exactly what they need. Don’t just assume that people know that they have made a difference. Tell them. If that person is no longer living, well, take time to thank God for putting that person in your life at a time you needed him or her.
Are you up for the challenge? I know you are. This is a good one (not that the others were not- smile). This is an opportunity to bless someone and make him or her feel good by letting him or her know that he or she did something good. I remember when folks wore the “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do?) braclets. For this challenge, envision yourself wearing a “HWIF?” bracelet. What does “HWIF?” stand for? It stands for “How Would I Feel? “
How would you feel if you received a letter stating, “Dear You, You may not even remember but you really made a difference in my life when you … I just want to say thank you. You may never know what your presence and actions did for me at that time in my life. I am better because of you!” Wow, how would you feel? Don’t waste an opportunity. Let’s make giving appreciation a way of life!
Until next time,
Stay encouraged and Stay in God’s presence!
Wendy M. Reynolds
PS. By the way, I appreciate you!