There are moments when writers wonder if they are making a difference with their writing, or if they will reach their goals whatever those goals might be. I would encourage everyone to keep a folder and note the times someone has said something you wrote or said made a difference. Use those notes to motivate you to keep encouraging and spreading kindness. Your words might even save someone. I am going to give a few examples of how words have worked well for me. I am only using them to illustrate what words can do, so please don’t think I think I am all that and a bag of chips. I always feel as if I am one chip short of a full bag!
My sister had just gone through a divorce after thirty years of marriage. Although she loved her husband deeply he told her he had never loved her, and he wanted to be with a younger woman he had met. Shortly after the divorce, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I brought lunch one day for her and as we were talking she told me that she wasn’t sure she could go on. I told her that our family was made of stronger stuff than that and she was going to be o.k. She told me ten years later that she was going to take her life that day, but my words stopped her. I am so thankful for something that made me go visit that day.
I was at school during my free period when our receptionist came to my door and said, “I have the mayor’s secretary on the phone. Can I transfer her to you?” When I answered the secretary told me the mayor wanted to meet with me. When I asked her what was it about she said she wasn’t sure, but she thought it might be about something I wrote. I came home and told my husband, and he asked me why I was nervous. I told him I felt as if I had done something wrong.
When I met the mayor he told me he had read an article I wrote called Blessings, not Burdens, and he had used it in a eulogy for a friend who had passed. He said his friend always saw the blessings instead of the burdens. He also said that he thought God had put us together for a reason. He thought maybe we should be helping each other. It made me feel good that a message I had expressed in an article was important to someone.
I wrote a self-help book called 101 Tips to Lighten Your Burden, and I had several people send me pictures of the tips that mattered to them. One that stood out was from my friend Vikki. Vikki is a badass trail runner. She has grit to spare, but she didn’t believe in her ability. We went to several ultra-marathons together and she always stopped after a few hours. One day, when she was trying to conquer a challenge she sent me a picture of the tip that starts with, “Believe you can.” I knew once she conquered the mental challenge nothing would stop her.
I had written an article about a man at our local YMCA who was responsible for creating a community among the seniors. He was called The Godfather, and the article was called We All Need a Little More Joe. Joe passed recently and his family reached out to me and asked if I could send the article because they wanted to display it at the funeral. That was an honor for me.
My first children’s book, What I Hope for You A Grandmother’s Wishes, was just released. My cousin posted a video on Facebook of her daughter reading it to her sons. She said they had already read it six times because they felt as if it was their nana who had just passed speaking to them. If nothing else comes from this book that video made it worthwhile.
You never know when your words are going to make a difference. I say the same prayer every day when I get up. “Father help me to lift people up with my words and not tear them down.”
Keep writing and realize that you are making a difference even when you least suspect it.