A pattern is developing. People I want to acknowledge as having a significant influence in my life don’t have names! Yesterday I talked about “Anne” — and today I want to introduce you to “Mrs. Smith.”
But before I do, let’s pause for a moment. God used two people at pivotal times in my life and I can’t even remember their names! What does that say about the potential impact you are having on others lives — and you don’t even know it?
Mrs. Smith taught English when I was a Groveton High School junior. I remember her long, brown hair. (Hmmm…I just recalled that I regularly thought it could use a trim.) She was friendly and engaging, and allowed our class to experiment with creative writing rather than making us diagram sentences (some of you are too young to even know what that means) and do book reports.
Nearly thirty years after that year with her, a pending move necessitated that I sort through some old files. I was surprised to find several papers I wrote for her — along with her comments in red. During those moments of reviewing creative writing assignments I wrote at age 16, it hit me: Mrs. Smith was the first person to encourage me to keep writing.
I didn’t remember that. In fact, I had forgotten about her. She was “back there”; one of the numerous high school teachers I had sometimes wearily endured. Years later, when my husband encouraged me to do some writing and publishers were surprisingly willing to hire me to do so, I never made the connection to Mrs. Smith. It took moving from my home of twenty years to remember her.
Doing this blog series is affecting me in a way I didn’t anticipate. Having two women leave their signature on my life in such poignant ways, yet not being able to remember their names, is producing a sense of awe at God’s faithfulness. You see, to most people you and I are nameless. For the most part, we move through our lives anonymously. In stores, schools, parks, malls, offices and even churches, we are “that lady” who spoke kindly to her fussy toddlers…held hands with her husband, even though we’re no longer young…was patient in line when everyone else was irritated and frazzled. We are “that co-worker” who offered to stay late so a workmate could attend their child’s school play or “that guy” who treated women with chivalrous respect.
Anne and Mrs. Smith taught me to have a vision for motherhood and see the value of putting my thoughts onto paper so others could know someone empathizes with their struggles and understands their joys.
But here’s the thing: their example and influence in my life wasn’t “noticed” for years. The seeds God used them to plant in my heart took many years to produce tangible fruit. And even more years for me to realize how God had used them.
Believe me — you are probably Anne or Mrs. Smith to someone. The way you live your life; trust God through hardship; patiently train your kids when you’re exhausted; serve your church; respect your weak and flawed husband (who has a weak and flawed wife); show up on time and work diligently in the workplace; and speak of God’s goodness and faithfulness — rather than regularly complain about your life — is probably impacting people around you without you even knowing.
Just think. One day years from now it may “hit” someone that they’ve been affected by your life in a tangible, life-altering way. Perhaps they’ll never write a blog post about you. But maybe they will love their kids or persevere through suffering or excel on the job or have a more devoted relationship with God because of you.
And it’s okay if they forget your name.