This is the last stop for the Make Today Matter blog hop, in which bloggers have been reflecting on the habits in Chris Lowney’s new book from Loyola Press. See the full list of blog hop stops here.I keep a “cheer-ups” file for paper treasures that strengthen me when I hit a snag of desolation. I realized this week that the manila folder reminds me of happy warriors, those special people Chris Lowney talks about in Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World), when he writes, “Answer this hurting world’s call for happy warriors.”
Cards from friends, inspirational quotes, love notes from grandchildren, postcards, and printouts of e-mails encourage me when I pull the file out and flip through it.
Today I needed that file; I found a card from Mary, who recently died at 92. She always made people smile, and she laughed when most people would cringe. She often put a dollar in a birthday card, writing, “Go have an ice cream!” Seeing her handwriting made me laugh again. She made every day matter by her humor and smile.
And I found a copy of an e-mail from 2008, when I was working on a church fundraising campaign:
I want to tell you how much your support for me meant during the past year—more than you might imagine or that I can express. It’s amazing the subtle gifts we unexpectedly receive from people we hardly know. . . your card and e-mails mean more than you know. Thank you.
Wow. I cannot remember what I did or said to influence the writer of the e-mail. But his note back to me meant enough that I kept it 10 years! Lowney tells a story like this in his book, illustrating that we profoundly influence others without realizing it.
For instance, I remember being a cashier in college. I easily smiled at customers, but when a curmudgeon came through the line, I found it impossible to smile at the following customer. It wasn’t until a genuinely smiling face looked at me that I regained my smile. I never forgot how those strangers affected me in those few minutes. I learned to try to make my smile contagious.
If you don’t have a cheer-ups file, start one today. Include cards like valentines and notes that begin: Mom, you’ve helped me through my darkest moments….In addition to the paper files, I save cheer-ups in a special folder on my computer. I call my folder “Justin Case.” The pun makes me smile, and that’s a good thing. It helps me store up new strength for when desolation strikes, because it surely will.
Reading the cheer-ups and Lowney’s book, I’m reminded of reasons I have to be grateful. God’s Spirit is at work. Take time to remember a kindness. Its ripple effect can change the world.