A little more than a week ago, a young woman from our community passed away. She had been battling cancer for some time. She and her husband were active members of the local faith community, and poured themselves into others and into serving and into doing those little things that matter. Her life has impacted so many other lives — not because she was a world changer (who can change an entire world?), but because, I think, she was a life changer. She reached out to each person as if they were the only person in need. It reminds me of one of my favorite lessons from Mother Theresa:
We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
Her life is definitely a legacy of God’s love. I rejoice in that.
While it is beautiful and appropriate for friends and loved ones to be flooding social media with tender words of gratitude and sorrow and joy and all that is wrapped up in losing someone we so love, it has been challenging my heart this week.
How many times do we wait to speak the good of others until after they’re gone? Wouldn’t our world be a better place if we each took the time to tell others when they’ve made a difference in our lives?
It’s not always easy. I know this to be true. And sometimes, the impact of someone’s words or kindness toward us takes a lifetime for us to truly understand. I think of a man who lives on the other side of the country — we’ll call him “Jack.” I’ve known him for almost twenty years, and he has loved me as a daughter. He has laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me, corrected me, taught me, encouraged me. And every year, it seems, I recognize how much greater his gift of love is to me, how much it has changed my life. I suspect this will continue for the rest of my life — his love has changed me, and will continue to do so. It can be hard to articulate that in words big enough for the occasion. And it can be hard to understand the full scope of such a life-changing love. Yet even in this case, I know I don’t say it often enough. I know I don’t tell Jack how much he has meant to me these almost-twenty years.
How many other life-changing loves have gone unspoken? Small kindnesses are worth praising. I think also of a woman I’ve known most of my life — since I was a wee young lass. Two nights ago, she called me when I wasn’t expecting a call. It was just a phone call. Just checking in. Just wanting to let me know she was thinking about us. A simple gesture like that can make an enormous difference to someone who is hurting or struggling.
This week, as we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to challenge you to thank someone who has made a difference in your life. Really do it well — gush all over them. Affirm that those tiny little acts of love and kindness make a huge difference. Find some way to express to someone how much you appreciate them — because tomorrow is not promised. You may be gone; the other person may be gone. Don’t let it wait.
To appreciate and praise acts of love is to encourage acts of love.
And remember what Junior Asparagus said — a thankful heart is a happy heart.
From the shores of Wicket Lake,
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