Last week we talked about 14 People in Your Child's Life To Remember on February 14
. Today I am going to challenge you (again!) to examine your own life to really see the people in it, the ones who aren't often noticed let alone appreciated. Then I am going to challenge you to show the love to them on Valentine's Day. Or on any day, really.
Once upon a time my small group (6 families from our church who commit to meeting together regularly to develop friendships, support each other, and study the Bible together) discussed our "trade routes." The phrase came out of the historical understanding that part of the reason the early church was able to flourish in particular places was because of the roads, or trade routes, that the cities were near. In this way the gospel message could be shared by people who were traveling as part of their daily life and would bring the news about Jesus with them.
We were challenged to examine our own "trade routes" or who we encountered as we went through our daily and weekly routines and how we might make the effort to do more than offer a polite greeting. What if we took a few moments to chat and began to learn the names of the people we encountered? Learning a name would be the first step to getting to know someone as a person and often would lead to deeper conversations. Members of our group shared some amazing God stories that came out of this effort.
Be brave, be loving, be grateful and consider who on your trade route you might notice this Valentine's Day.
14 Forgotten Folks Who Deserve a Valentine
Trash or recycling haulers
I can tell you from personal experience that leaving a treat on top of the recycling bin doesn't work. It just ends up tossed in back with the recycling. Oops! I am guessing a quick call to the city could get me the names of the workers assigned to my route and an address to which I could send a note.
Mail carriers and delivery people
Every day they bring every thing right to your door saving you an amazing amount of time. Leaving a sweet treat with a note would surely be welcome. If you happen to be home when they come by, make a point to learn their names. My mailman is Sheldon. Do you know yours?
Who do you pay to do the dirty work in your life? Do you have a cleaning person or a snow plow service? Lawn service? What about the person working at the dry cleaners?
Grocery store cashiers
Is there a favorite whose line you are always willing to wait in? A woman who always greets your toddler? Someone who makes eye contact and offers a genuine smile? Recognize the gift of good service when you receive it.
Have you ever been to the pharmacy when there wasn't a line? Yeah, me neither. These people have medical expertise and the patience required to deal with a long line of sick people (or people caring for sick people) plus they deal with health insurance. That's real service, people.
Gas station clerks
Yeah, I know. You pay at the pump and you don't go in so you don't ever see them. But they are there and they are the reason the gas station is conveniently open. And when you do need to go in (i.e. bathroom emergency with a child) you are sure grateful for their presence. Let them know.
Did a sermon touch your heart? Did a certain story shared prompt you to do something you've been neglecting -- calling a certain someone or offering forgiveness or making a change in your life? For goodness' sake, tell your pastor. Preaching is hard working and leading can be lonely work. Encourage him or her to continue on by recognizing the good he or she does.
Any repair people
If you are in duress and someone saves the day for you by solving the plumbing crisis, bringing back the internet, or installing the new furnace be appreciative that they did the thing you have no idea how to do. I recently gave loaves of freshly baked bread to the two men who installed my new furnace and they were delighted!
Waitstaff at restaurants or cafeterias
If you're a regular someplace then you probably encounter the same staff time and again. Make the effort to appreciate good service. Include a note with a generous tip! If you happen to be out on Valentine's Day itself then be sure to take notice of the people who are working on a holiday so you can enjoy yourself.
Policemen, firefighters, and EMTs
Until you've been on the other end of a 911 call you can't begin to understand the relief you feel when the help you need arrives at your door. Thanking the individuals who have cared for you and your family is welcome but so is a general note and a plate of cookies dropped off at the station. Be grateful they are always on call for us.
Teachers or professors
Unless you've gone back to school as an adult you're going to have to go back in time for this one. You might have to dig a little to find an address but you've got the internet on your side. Think back to the teachers who made the biggest difference in your life. The one with the extra patience. The one whose class set you on your current career path. The one who went above and beyond. Never mind how many years (decades?) it has been. If that teacher is still alive, she wants to hear your story.
Administrative assistants and office staff everywhere
If you've been one or you know one you know these people keep the world going round. They answer the phone and your questions, they schedule and reschedule, and they solve problems all day long. They deserve a cheer!
The lowest man on the totem pole
At any place you go or work there is someone doing the hardest and least appreciated work. This might be the cart person at the grocery store or the maintenance person at your workplace. Or the cleaning crew basically anywhere. Notice those people.
The person who needs it most
Maybe there's someone you regularly encounter on your personal trade route who often seems sad. Or tired. Or grumpy. Maybe he doesn't even offer the best service. We don't know his story but what we do know is that he needs some love. Offering a small gift or card is a simple way to do it.
I am once again going to throw out the "perfectionist disclaimer." In no way do I want this list to put pressure on you to write a zillion valentines. If you've got stuff
happening in your life right now (internal or external) then you might not be able to make it happen. Be nice to yourself. If you've only got the energy to write one note, then so be it. This list isn't about guilt or pressure but instead a gentle reminder to show love to those around us.
Please, comment below with your own stories of giving or receiving thanks. Together, we can give love and be love.