I have always wanted to make a difference. Sometimes this desire has had its roots in pride and selfishness; other times it has been purely altruistic. Sometimes it has led me to do desperate things. For example, in the first few months after the birth of my second child, it seemed that all I did was nurse the baby, bounce the baby, and clean up the messes the 2-year-old made while I was nursing and bouncing: endless days repeating the same things that had to be done again the next day. My mind knew these tasks would one day, years down the road, turn out to be extremely important. But I still itched for the immediate pay-off. So during naptime and in the evenings, instead of grabbing the little sleep I could, I picked up my paintbrush and went to town on most of the rooms in my house and then turned my painting efforts to my kitchen table and my kitchen cabinets. Painting gave me the instant gratification I needed. In two hours, I could make a visible difference.
A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to find a note from David Magleby, a political science professor at BYU. Sixteen years ago when I was a BYU grad student, I edited his books, articles, and monographs on Utah’s political history and on campaign finance. His research was fascinating and fun to read, and he took my suggestions seriously. I was sad to leave his employ when we moved back East for grad school. In the letter, Professor Magleby explained that he was retiring from BYU and was sending thank you notes to everybody who had worked for him and with him over his long and illustrious career there. I was shocked and touched to be included—it was sixteen years ago, after all, and I had just been a shy college student, a short-term editor. For the rest of day, I felt a kind of glow inside. Someone had remembered me. Someone had expressed that I had made a difference.
The act of being remembered made its own difference in my life. I started thinking about who I would send thank you notes to, about people who have, up to this point in my life, made a difference in my academic career, in my mothering career, and in my path to discipleship. I began making my own thank-you-note list. Some of the people I jotted down are major players and others are short-term editors whose words or small, seemingly insignificant acts helped me revise my perspective in a particularly difficult chapter in my life story.
Who has made a difference in your life? To whom would you send your first thank you note? Have you ever been remembered in this way or have you ever been on the receiving end of this kind of thank you note? Tell us about it!