I love that we have a holiday that reminds us of all the things we have to be grateful for. God has given us MUCH to be thankful for. This year I am particularly thankful for the oh-so-many “tiny” things that regular ol’ people like you and me do that unexpectedly impact attitudes, atmospheres, and situations in huge ways. Tiny things that flow from who they are, not from what they are paid or expected to do. A person doesn’t have to be particularly influential, give away thousands of dollars, or start a non-profit to solve world hunger to make a lasting difference in someone else’s life.
So here are my thank-yous to a few of the difference-makers in my life. (I have many more, but I don’t want to keep you here all day!) And then, why don’t you join me in thanking someone who has done (or is doing!) something “small” that has made a big difference? Put your shout-out in the comments below, and then share this post with a difference-maker you know!
- Thank you, cleaning lady at my grandma’s assisted living home. Thank you for not just vacuuming, but for stopping to pray with my grandma, too. You are making her move to her new home just a little bit easier. You are making a difference.
- Thank you, staff guy at the Sports Center. Thank you for not just getting the harness on my foster son so that he could go up in the ropes course, but for literally running through the course to stand by his side and gently encourage him when he got too scared to keep going. You gave him the confidence and courage to do something he thought he couldn’t do. He will need that courage and confidence for other hard things in life, too. You are making a difference.
- Thank you, retired friend at church. Thank you for not just asking me how youth group is going, but for offering to make cookies for us every week so that I could permanently check “buy snacks” off of my never-ending to-do list. You are making a difference.
- Thank you, knitting friend at church. Thank you for not just teaching my girls how to knit, but for being the kind of person who also teaches them how to love themselves and each other. You practically pour value and self-confidence on them. You are making a difference.
- Thank you, parents. Thank you for not just teaching me to walk and read, but for modeling God’s love for others. From the time I was a little girl, piled in the back of our station wagon with kids from the projects, heading for church or dinner at our house – to the time you gave that station wagon away to someone who needed it more – to the nursing home visits, pushing wheelchairs and letting Alzheimer’s patients stroke my hair. You have made a difference… you are making a difference, not just on the ones you so diligently love, but on me. Thank you.
One of my very favorite quotes on this topic is not from a famous person, but from someone who decided to take what she had (a cattle farm) and figure out a creative way she could use that to help others. She said:
“It’s not about how much you can do – it’s about, will you do anything?”
And don’t forget the starfish story:
One morning on the beach, an old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
“The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves. When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”