We never know the impact we have on others.
But this isn't a story about me. But rather someone else and the impact they probably didn't know they had on me.
A few weeks ago, I had the sudden inspiration to write my eighth-grade English teacher. I wanted to tell her that it is she who sparked my interest in writing and to thank her for her both her high standards but also her approachability to a young awkward eighth grader who didn't know where she fit in the world.
But there was one small problem. I hadn't talked to her since my brother graduated middle school two years after me. I had no idea where she worked or lived. But this is where my investigative journalism skills come in...or rather, my Googling skills. Through Google, I eventually found out that she retired from the school system a few years back and I thought "well, there goes that idea.", yet I kept searching and I eventually found her picture and name on a membership of a charity in the Midwest. So I sent the letter there, in the hope that she would somehow get it. But I wasn't expecting much.
I definitely wasn't expecting a reply. But a reply did come today, just a few weeks later. A three page letter, in fact (long letters are the best kind of letters!)
Her first line resonates with me:
"Many of a teacher's most wonderful moments come after the teacher leaves the classroom. So it was when I received your letter!"
She impacted my life dearly, though she was only my teacher for eighth grade, though it was thirteen years ago now. And it was wonderful to read her reply and to write her again.
Her comment along with the bishop's comment got me thinking.....who else out there deserves our thanks but hasn't received it? which teacher - in elementary, middle or high school, college or grad school - changed our lives and doesn't know it?
I invite you to write them as I did with her. Write out of a deep gratitude, write to reconnect with a part of you that stems from your past, write out of love.
I think when we do that - when we reflect on those who have impacted us by sharing our gratitude - we can more easily see God's hand in our journey and how He sends us just the right people at the right time. Yet, we can also smile knowing at one point, maybe God has worked through us to be one of those "right people at the right time" for someone else...though we may never know it.