Featured Image photo credit: Bethany Hillary
I recently learned how to use my new paper-cutting machine to design personalized cards. I was excited to finally make my imaginations a reality and send these cards to a few of my friends. The cards were silly, using inside jokes with those friends in a way I knew only they could appreciate, and I included a note inside thanking each of them for their friendship and influence.
A few days later, I was pleased to receive a text from one of the recipients telling me how much she enjoyed the card I sent. I was surprised to learn, though, that my card had arrived on a day that she was particularly struggling and she said the timing of the words I’d written couldn’t have been better.
Another day or two later, a second friend and recipient of my cards was talking to me through video messages. The first message detailed how difficult her morning had been, with children sick and having accidents and her husband unable to help her that particular morning. She expressed her determination to make it through the day, despite knowing how difficult it would be. Not long after watching her first message, I received a second video from her. In this one, she excitedly showed me that she had just received my card and told me how the words lifted her spirits on the challenging day.
In both cases, I felt a little silly that my motivation had originally been to try out my new crafting toy, but I was so grateful that I decided to write those notes to send to my friends. Such a small action had a powerful impact! I feel as though this is not an usual occurrence. Often in life, it’s the small actions that have the biggest impact.
Looking back through my life, I am fortunate to have many memories of service from friends and family alike. It’s likely not surprising that most of these fond memories center around small actions, rather than large deeds.
A friend bringing me a mix of happy songs to cheer me up during a difficult week in high school.
Mothers in the neighborhood stopping by with words of encouragement and chocolate after word spread of my difficult postpartum journey.
A former roommate having treats delivered to my door after I casually mentioned that I was having a discouraging day.
My sisters sending me flowers and cookies after hearing of my pregnancy loss.
A friend bringing me a little gift, simply because she thought of me when she saw it in the store.
As in the case of my card-making, my friends’ actions were simple. However, these small acts stay with me many years later because of how impactful they were to me.
Sometimes an action is as simple as recognizing the difficulties of others. My mom recently told me about the pain she felt at the passing of a woman she had recently become quite close to. The loss weighed heavily on her when she attended church services that Sunday. Upon seeing my mother, a woman in the congregation came up and hugged her, then pulled back and looked in her eyes before pulling her into a longer, tighter hug that she knew was needed. With one action, this sweet friend comforted my mom and helped her feel seen in her grief.
Photo Credit: Katrina Hubbard
I love to volunteer with one of my favorite charities: the Magic Yarn Project. This volunteer-run organization provides soft, whimsical yarn wigs for children with hair loss. The wigs are made by volunteers from all over, and are styled to look like princesses, superheroes, and other fun characters. The founder of the project, Holly Christensen, recently shared a story about the impact that these volunteer services have. After hearing that a recipient of one of the wigs had passed away, Holly was broken-hearted and feeling discouraged. She knew that the wigs were well-received, but she wondered how it could be having much of an impact when cancer and other illnesses were always prevalent and caused so much heartache. Days later, she saw a picture of the child’s headstone, which featured a picture of the child wearing a wig made by the Magic Yarn Project. Of all the many, many pictures of this child through every stage of life, the family had chosen one with the child wearing the wig! It represented the hope and happiness that came from that wig, and from each one like it.
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