The first time it happened, I had attended a dance recital and saw a girl whose mother I was friends with at church performing beautifully. She seemed to have a grace and confidence that made her shine as she floated with the other dancers on the stage. So I sent her a letter to tell her so. I didn't really know her that well, but God laid it on my heart and I felt compelled to send the letter. She received it and her mother thanked me for taking the time, but she did admit that the child wondered why someone she didn't know well had written her. It made me doubt what I thought God was telling me and so for a number of years, my pen was silent.
Fast forward a few years...and I found myself face to face with one of those "thorn in the side" people that are brought into your life to remold you or to shave off the rough edges. This individual came in the form of a credit administrator who had the power to approve many of the loans that I was presenting when I was a commercial lender. He did not like the fact that I was wordy and that I tried to cover all of the bases. So, he was honest with me...and not in a kind way. He was ruthless with packages I presented and only let things through once he had battled over every point he could think of to raise. I learned to write my loan packages with no unnecessary words and by being honest about the strengths and weaknesses of each package I touched. I double checked addition on every column, researched industries relentlessly and quit being so thin-skinned about his disapproval. In fact, I came to expect it. So, when I left to go to work at another bank, God nudged me to send him a "thank you" note. I knew I was a better lender because of him. Granted, he had at times made my life a living hell...for five years. But I had become a pretty decent lender in the process.
I procrastinated and never made the time to send the note. He died two months later of a massive stroke. I've never forgotten falling short. And I've never been able to express to him the value of the lessons that he taught me. Who knew that my full time job would become writing and analyzing loan packages? Why? Because I could write a loan package that was easy to understand but covered all of the bases.
Since that time, I have never failed to pick up a pen when God has prompted me to do so. Letters have been sent to people as He directs without a lot of intervention on my part. The notes are in His time...not mine. In fact, from time to time, I've run into someone who has thanked me for a note that I'd forgotten I'd sent. Which just proves my point...the words may have come through me...but they are from Him.
Some people might think that is a little pretentious, but I don't. I believe that everyone here has gifts and talents that are unique and special. The true mark is that the person fails to see what a "big deal" that gift is in the service of others. Because our gifts really aren't for us to enjoy even though we often do. We forget that sometimes.
For me, I believe that my gift is words. God created in me a passion for reading and writing that borders on the obsessive. There have been times when I have been sitting at my desk at work and someone comes to mind. So I send a letter to them. I have no idea if these words matter to them or not and frankly...it is none of my business. My job is to take God's prompting and to do as He asks. To encourage, to congratulate, or just to notice something that someone has done. I don't feel obligated nor compelled...I just write.
May I recommend the same to you? If you are ever touched by someone's work, accomplishments or just their presence in your life, would you tell them so? So many of us assume that people know how we feel about them...and then a time comes when it is too late to tell them how very special or necessary they are or were to make you who you are today. I'm not really suggesting that you make a list...but I am saying that if God puts someone or something on your heart...do not hesitate. I did once...and I do not advise it.
We don't really know what effect our positive words can have in the life of someone else. Just to know that someone believes in us and cares enough to take the time to write is an amazing gift. I received a gift just like this a couple of weeks ago from a relative that I have not seen in many years. It meant a lot to me. In fact, notes of encouragement that I have received for the past 25 years are still in my possession. I re-read them sometimes when I am beginning to doubt myself.
Words have power. God must have thought so since He left us the Bible to reflect upon as His collection of encouraging notes to us. So, write others when you are prompted and expect nothing in return. You may be speaking words of life to someone who desperately needs to hear them. My friend reminded me of this through a song I posted to my Facebook wall tonight. She took the time to think that I might enjoy it and get something from it. I did. Thank you. :)