I’ve been thinking a lot about the banner that was displayed in my daughter’s middle school this spring. It said, “13 Reasons Why You Matter.” It was a positive spin on the controversial show “13 Reasons Why.” Although some students made fun of it, they all stopped, noticed, and it made them think.
It’s made me think too. In fact, the banner came to mind as I was trying to think of an anniversary gift for my parents. Fifty-five years of marriage needed a very special gift, so I purchased a lovely glass jar and wrote “55 Reasons We Love You” with gold paint pen on the lid. Between my sister, my husband, my two daughters, and myself, we filled that jar so full there was no room for the chocolate kisses I bought to go in the bottom.
I must admit, I wasn’t expecting the responses that were written on those 55 slips of paper. With just a few simple sentence starters, my family members expressed gratitude … provided comedic relief … and captured precious memories for this special couple.
I could describe my parents’ emotional reaction to the gift or you can simply look at the picture.
I think it might be the best gift they’ve ever received. It will sit on their kitchen table in Florida where they eat breakfast together every morning. My mom will pick out a slip of paper and read it to my 77-year-old dad. There will be laughter, tears, amazement, assurance, and relief – lots of relief. Because no matter your age or your accomplishments, it’s a relief to know you matter. And you can never hear it too many times.
My mom said she’d pull a reason out of the jar when she was feeling down and needed a lift. She also said that once they got through all 55 reasons, they would put them back in the jar and read them again, one by one, day by day.
For the rest of their days on earth, my parents won’t have to wonder if they matter. They’ll just reach into the jar.
I get a little teary when I think about that.
On those days when growing old is especially hard, my mom or dad will reach into that jar. And what they read on that slip of paper could give them reason to live.
The life-sustaining impact of this simple gift has got me thinking.
I wish every young person had one
… for the days they feel rejected, unwelcome, and worthless.
I wish every elderly person had one …
for the days they feel lonely, afraid, unimportant, and useless.
I wish every middle-aged person had one …
… for the days they feel like they’ve failed … like they’re invisible … like things are going nowhere.
I wish every single person on this earth had one …
A jar with 55 reasons why they are loved.
Actually, one reason would do.
And it wouldn’t have to be in a decorative jar.
We could text it.
We could say it.
We could write it on a piece of paper or in the sand.
We could stick it on a windshield or on the bathroom mirror.
We could whisper it or shout it from the rooftops.
“The reason I love you and can’t imagine life without you is this _____________.”
They might smile.
They might cry.
But for certain, they will sigh with relief.
Because no matter your age or your accomplishments, it’s a relief to know you matter.
And that reason you love them might just be reason to carry on.
Dear friends of the Hands Free Revolution, today’s message is the essence of my new daily inspiration book, ONLY LOVE TODAY. Each short entry (organized by seasons of life) is designed to help you strengthen connections and choose love despite the stresses, distractions, and discord of everyday. You will find gratitude starters in the book like the following I wrote for my parents’ anniversary gift. Please feel free to use them. They can apply to just about anyone!
- I’ll never forget when you …
- I appreciate how you …
- From you, I have learned …
- One thing you do like a pro is …
- What I love most about you two is …
- I have you to thank for …
- Our family wouldn’t be the same without your …
- Someday I hope I can _________ like you do.
- If you two had a life motto, it would be …
- If money was no object, I would give you …
- My favorite memory of you is …