You will brighten someone’s day when you initiate with them, letting them know you’re thinking about them, and wondering how they are doing. Simple acts like this go a long way to deepening a relationship. Listen in.
Before we get into today’s show I could use your help with something. I’ve been asked to give a Zoom presentation at the end of February to the Legacy Coalition, a Christian Grandparenting organization. It’s not finalized yet, but I think I’m going to give a talk on memories that Grandparents can create for their grandchildren.
As part of this, I would so like to share any memories you are willing to share of memories your grandparents created for you. They can be from when you were a child, or as an adult. It would be interesting and encouraging to hear any stories like this from you. It might even turn into a future podcast episode.
Please send it to me in an email to john [at]caringforothers [dot]org.
On to today’s program.
A relational word to focus on for 2022
Have you ever had one of those gray, dull days where things going on in your life match the dreary overcast weather of the middle of winter? But then suddenly out of nowhere, something happens to lift your spirits?
Today’s episode is about something simple we can do to brighten someone's day, which in turn will brighten our own.
Because of several unrelated texts and emails, I stumbled upon one simple way to brighten another person’s day. Here it is: initiate with someone. Yes, initiate.
I know some of you like coming up with a word or goal to focus on for the new year. If that’s the case with you, “initiate” would be a good choice. Initiate by taking the first step in connecting with someone.
Here’s the first example I stumbled upon
Back in December of last year, there was a horrific display of evil in our community. It even made the national news here in the US. During an annual Christmas parade through the quaint downtown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a man drove his SUV right down the middle of the parade. Starting from the rear, he plowed through marching bands, other parade participants, and spectators. Six people were killed, including an 8-year old boy. Over 60 others were injured and hospitalized. It was horrible.
This happened on a Sunday. The next day the school was canceled in Waukesha. One of the donors to the sponsor of this podcast, Caring for Others, has a high school senior in that school system. I happen to know this young man through his parents and I wondered if he was affected by this trauma.
A text to initiate contact
So without giving it a second thought I texted him with this:
ME: I am thinking about you today, given the Christmas parade tragedy of yesterday. I heard school is canceled today. I’m wondering how you’re doing with all that happened. Did you know anyone who was hurt?
HIM: I’m doing okay, thank you for thinking of me. I wasn’t at the parade but I know people who saw it happen and everyone’s a little stressed about it. I know one person who got hit by the SUV but no serious injuries on his part.
ME: I’m glad to hear you’re okay. It’s certainly a terrible tragedy, certainly for those injured or worse, and for those like your friends who saw it happen.
HIM: Yeah, thank you for checking on me though it means a lot.
I was a little surprised at first that my simple spur-of-the-moment text meant a lot to him. But as I re-read his reply to my text it struck me how he appreciated the fact I was thinking of him in the context of this terrible event. Thinking about what he might be dealing with prompted me to initiate with him through a simple text. Who of us wouldn’t feel good knowing someone else was thinking about us in the midst of a difficult situation.
A second example of initiating to brighten someone’s day
Last Thanksgiving our daughter living in South Carolina was in a particularly grateful mood and sent me a text that read
I am thankful for you and all your support this year. Thanks for checking in on me so many times this fall. It really meant a lot to me to know you were thinking about me.
There it is again, this theme of initiating with a person that starts with simply thinking about the person and checking in on them.
Thanksgiving without your wife
Around the same time I got the text from my daughter I was thinking about my missionary friend, Martin. I talked about him in episodes 071 and 072 concerning the sudden death of his wife. I was thinking about him last November because it was going to be his second Thanksgiving without her. So I called to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving. My call went to voice mail, but within a few hours he responded to me in a text:
Hi John, thank you for reaching out and thinking of us. Serena’s godmother from Germany is visiting and celebrating Thanksgiving with us. That’s a blessing. Hope you have a good Thanksgiving as well!!
A voice from the past initiated with Janet and me
Here’s the last example of how to brighten someone’s day.
On November 10th of last year, Janet and I were traveling and in the evening I checked our voicemail at home. To my astonishment, there was a message from Margaret, a friend from over 50 years ago we had lost contact with.
She remembered our daughter’s birthday was coming up the next day, November 11th – Veteran’s Day, and that prompted her to track us down after all these years have passed. Her remembering our daughter’s birthday, made her think of us, and that prompted her to contact Janet and me.
Her initiating with us like this certainly brightened our day and has led to several follow-up phone calls between the three of us. Sadly it’s been just the three of us talking because her wonderful husband died two years ago. I won’t go any further now to describe this remarkable re-connection. It deserves a podcast episode of its own at a later date.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
The more I think of these examples I’ve shared, and others I haven’t, they remind me of how Jesus initiates with us. His incarnation at Christmas was him coming to be with us, so one day we can go to be with him.
They remind me of the story of Jesus initiating with the woman at the well. He went out of his way to be with her, even though she was so very different from him. She was a woman, he’s a man. Jesus’ followers at the time looked down upon her.. Yet Jesus initiated with her anyway, which in a very powerful way, brightened her day. Read the story in John 4; it’s all there.
Given that we are all created in the image of God, when we initiate well with people, without any motive for personal gain, we reflect the character of God. And in doing so, we will find fulfillment in being the person God created us to be.
I wonder who are the people in your life you could bless by initiating with them? Maybe even someone from your distant past. I know if you were to ask God who these people are He would show you.
Here’s the main point I hope you remember from today’s episode
To brighten someone’s day, check-in with them to let them know you are thinking about them and wondering how they are doing. For when you brighten someone’s day, you’ll brighten your own. It’s what we’re all made for.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. You can leave them in the “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to think about the people you could initiate with, and then act on that thought. It would be one way to find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
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