This past week, a janitor from my work retired. Many years ago, in a “random act of kindness” mindset, I sent him a card telling him how much I appreciated the work he did and the way in which he did it. The next time he saw me, this soft spoken man said to me, “Thank you so much for the card—your words meant more than you know.” It was just a small gesture, but it mattered. From that day forward, there was an extra measure of warmth in our greetings to one another.
Saying farewell to him got me thinking about the ways in which things touch our hearts and how much it can mean to share those sentiments—and how often we miss opportunities to do just that.
When I was in my senior year of high school, a friend of mine signed the back of her class photo (do they still do that anymore?) in a way that took me by surprise. Though the exact wording is hazy in my memory, it was along the lines of “your friendship means more than you know.” It made me feel like I mattered to her and it opened up a conversation that we never would have had without her sharing her feelings in tiny blue handwriting.
We are still friends today.
We are meant to matter to one another. Except for the occasional recluse, we are social beings where mattering to someone else matters to us. So why is it so hard for us to let people know “more than they know”?
Sometimes I think it’s because we’re too busy—caught up in the minutiae of life. And that’s really a shame, when you think about it. Every day is a race…but to where? And for what?
Sometimes I think it’s because it’s just plain hard to find the right words. As a writer, I know that I am a much better communicator with my fingers than my lips. It gives me a chance to think through my thoughts…usually a plus in Communication Land.
Sometimes I think it’s because it’s just too scary. If we share with someone that we care about them, and it’s met with anything less than reciprocation, it’s a bit of a bummer. When things are too often a one-way street, realizing you are traveling alone hurts the heart.
Whatever the case, too often we miss opportunities to connect with someone and let them know they matter. And whatever the excuse, those missed opportunities are a loss. For both giver and receiver.
My heart is heavy these days. A very dear friend of mine has suffered yet another devastating blow in her battle with cancer. There is nothing that I can say to her that will be of any real help. But I know with certainty that she knows she matters to me and that I’m praying for her. I know that she feels the love of many. And while this doesn’t lessen her pain or change her diagnosis, it does matter. She matters.
Please know that I am no one to teach or preach on vulnerability—my husband jokes that I am a CIA agent because I can be so guarded on things—but often I write because it is the very thing I need to hear. So…go tell someone they matter to you. It may be “more than they know”—and exactly what they need to hear.