The Greatest Gift: Having Someone Believe in You

For the second year in a row, Publishers Weekly blog (PWxyz) posted a selection of  what they termed “five perfect sentences”. Included was this gem:

“My father was right: you could make anybody amazing just by insisting they were.”

    -”What We Know About the Lost Aztec Children” by Elizabeth McCracken

I wasn’t influenced by the overall impact of the story, because I haven’t read it, but the line is indeed powerful. In fact,  it kept me thinking throughout the day.

The word amazing is not the essential component in this phrase, it’s the word “you“. When I read this the first time I was completely convinced it was a song of praise for some specific individual who had a degree of charisma, hutzpah, persuasion, or other personal magnetism capable of infusing others with inner forces of which they were unaware.

I loved that image of a character whose own energy and life force could ignite others and allow them to accomplish remarkable things.

As I found myself dwelling on this throughout the day, I returned to reread the quotation. When I did, “you” expanded from a specific individual to the plural pronoun, the rhetorical “you” indicating all people.

My mind meandered down idealistic pathways to “pay it forward”, in an emotionally supportive way. Surrounded by cookie vapors and twinkling lights, I pictured what the world would be like if  each and every one of us offered not just a kind word or a helping hand, but an encouraging word, a specific expression of belief in someone else. Maybe seldom is heard a discouraging word when you are “Home, Home on the Range”, but in these strident times it’s a major accomplishment to hear a civil word, let alone an encouraging one.

When it happens, it has an amazing effect.

I stopped at city hall to pay my annual taxes recently and the gentleman in line behind me  offered a smile. That’s as much of an invitation as I ever need to say hello and engage in light conversation. He quickly offered his opinion that paying taxes is one of the best experiences of the year for him. He proceeded to add that he felt every penny was returned to him tenfold in the civic services, safe community, and positive life he was able to live in our town, and in our country. He expounded on his thesis while paying his bill, then complimented and thanked the clerks for their important service to us all.

In the clerks’ office, the workers still put in a grinding eight hour day, listened to complaints, and went home to hours of chores and family obligations. Yet I have no doubt they saw the process differently that day; perhaps for days to come. No doubt aches, weariness, and stress continued, but their sense of worth and purpose had been affirmed.

When anyone looks in a mirror and sees limitations and failure, hearing a sincere voice pointing out positives and potentials makes a difference. As that memory wove its way into my quotation ruminations I reflected on how frequently in my teaching experience affirmations played a similar role in a student’s journey toward success.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. Working with other trusted writers who read, critique, and offer suggestions holds up a mirror that allows me to see my flaws and limitations, but also the positives and potentials of my efforts. Recently I worked on the acknowledgement notes for Odin’s Promise. My quotation preoccupation snagged those thoughts, too, and led me to this post.

I’m not willing to wait until the book is released in the spring to publicly thank my amazing writing “sisters”: Jenny, Lori, Christa, and Dawn. Your notes, suggestions, and constructive criticisms make me a better writer than I was before I knew you. Your enthusiasm for the stories, for the potential in works I share with you, keeps me  writing and growing. Others have done the same at various times, including Jan and Marjorie as well as new-found Julie.  In each case “you” have made me a better writer, always aiming to become amazing.

I am grateful for your insistence that it is possible.

I urge each of you to reflect on those in your life who have helped you recognize your own potential to be amazing. Then thank them.

5 Comments on “The Greatest Gift: Having Someone Believe in You

  1. What a great golden “gobbet” Sandy. It’s been a fantastic journey with you so far. 2014 is going to be a terrific year — I can’t wait to hold “Odin” in my own hands, the realization of hopes, hard work, perseverance and cheer — gifts which also show up in your characters.

    • Thanks, Christa. I agree, the journey is the source of the joy, and of eventual success (yours, mine, and ours!). I truly believe each year is better than the last, even during the times when that’s hard to recognize!
      Happy holidays!

  2. What a powerful post — of thoughtfulness and gratitude, and deep reflection, too. I love that your piece here was inspired by a quote, and I want to say that this line from your post — “When anyone looks in a mirror and sees limitations and failure, hearing a sincere voice pointing out positives and potentials makes a difference.” — is just as inspiring to me, your reader.
    When I think of my role as a teacher (6th grade) and as a member of various online teaching networks/community (such as the #nerdlution), the spirit of your words are what keeps me connected, in many ways.
    I look for those “sincere voices” and latch on to them as best as I can, and remember that my students need that too, as they grow as writers.
    Thanks for sharing your words.
    PS — I am stopping here as part of my own 50 comments at 50 blogs over 50 days #nerdlution, but I would have come by and dropped a note anyway. Good luck with the book.

    • Kevin, thanks for your visit, your note, and your lovely compliments and good wishes. Your reminder about the value of comments on others’ blogs inspires me, too. I was thinking of what I’d do for my imagined #nerdlution2, and a commitment to make daily blog comments excites me. I did that a few years ago and never resumed it. Now I will make it a point to do so in 2014.
      Hope your holiday break from classes also fills you with the kind of rest and re-invigoration that takes you back to “your kids” raring to go. Classroom energy is reciprocal, so your spirit will ignite them, I know.
      Best wishes for that, and all good things in 2014.

  3. Pingback: Questions of the Heart: When Patriotism and Love Collide | Sandy Brehl

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