Monday, January 9, 2012

The Power We Have

It is surprising what a simple gesture of kindness can mean in a person’s life. As I look back on my life, I realize that there were a few people who greatly influenced me. The amazing thing is that in every case the things they did were small simple things–so small the people have no idea what an impact they had on me. But even though they don’t remember what they did, I do.

Growing up in what was then the small town of Centerville, my friends and I used to visit the older ladies that lived on our street. Two of these especially influenced me by their kindness. Mrs. Torrey once gave me an old book, Heidi, with the simple words, “I have only sons and so I want you to have this.” It made me feel so very special and important.

When only five years old, I’d write “books” of my own, illustrate them and go door to door selling them. Mrs. Torrey and Aunt Nora would praise my books so much that it felt like they filled me with helium.
Later, in high school, an English teacher, Miss Lee, encouraged my writing. She wrote at the end of one assignment words that I memorized. “Sherrie, You’ve got it–whatever it is. Don’t ever stop writing!!!” I can’t even count how many time those two sentences saved me when encountering editors who rejected my manuscripts and through many other bumps in life.

Other friends such as Lucille Reading and Laurie Thornton warmed, encouraged and bolstered me, again without knowing what an impact they were having on my life. They just did what was natural for them. They loved me despite my faults. Whenever I’d get discouraged, I’d go visit Lucille and I’d come away lifted. When I went, I didn’t talk about my problems. I just knew that being in her presence for a little while would “cure” me. She was that kind of person. Laurie was the same way. Laurie was blind, but she had learned to laugh with life despite the fact that life had handed her some bad cards, and her laughter was infectious.

Often we read about people who have a mentor that takes them by the hand and plays a major part in their lives the way Anne Sullivan did in Helen Keller’s life. That does happen. But in my own life the most impactful influences have been brief, small occurrences like my young women’s leader, Barbara Davis, who despite the fact that I was being a brat during the lesson one night, patiently put up with me. Her love and kindness that night communicated a love to me that was much needed at the time. 

The reason I bring this up is because we too often underestimate the power we have to impact others. We never know when something as simple as a smile, a hug, a phone call, or an encouraging word is just what someone needs to send them on their way injected with hope–a hope that can last a lifetime. We are more influential than we realize, and we need to be more aware of the power we have to encourage others and then use that power.


Anonymous said...

Your post made me think of the influential people in my life, and they things they said and did have always stayed with me. I also loved Lucille Reading, too. When I was quite young, she was my Primary teacher, I don't remember if the wards had split yet, and we were still in the same ward. She was one of my favorites because she always had something positive to say that left you feeling you were the best and could do anything. I didn't realize at that young age how much those feelings would help me later to feel I could succeed. Of course, I hope you know how much your daily posts uplift and encourage all of us. Your good influence has no boundaries, and you are a blessing in so many lives.
Cathie xoxoxo

Becky Rose said...

love that quote by Joseph Smith about kindness and what it does for him. I've been meaning to find it.