My Drawer of Joy



I decided that this is a good time to tell you about one of my personal treasures. There is a lot of angst and distraction out there, so, with Thanksgiving coming up, I would like to shift the focus.

Pictured above is what I call my Drawer of Joy. It is the bottom drawer of an antique writing desk that we keep in our bedroom. It is mostly for decor, but I use it for a specific purpose: Whenever I receive a Thank-you note, a letter, or a card with a note from the sender, I toss them into my Drawer of Joy.

A lot of the things in my drawer came during the time that I was serving as a bishop. Every so often I would get a stack of pictures, letters or notes from a Primary, or Youth class. They were sweet – treasures. So, I decided to hang onto them. For years. Sure, I probably should scan them and toss them, but I can’t yet.

Occasionally, I need a “fix.”  Everyday is not always a great day. I don’t always feel great about myself. Some days I feel like I am spinning my wheels, or just doubt my self-worth. (Is that just me, or have any of you ever experienced those kinds of days – or years?)

Digging through my drawer and grabbing a random note or letter and reading it is good for my heart. Reading a sweet letter or card from my EC reminds me how much I love her. Reading notes from people I have served with reminds me of wonderful experiences we shared. Seeing the love and kindness that people have shown to me over the years warms my heart. I am glad to have a Drawer of Joy to dig into when I need some extra joy, or a testimony boost.

Here is the kicker: The only reason the Drawer of Joy exists, and is not just an empty drawer is this: People, moved to kindness, took the time to write a note, letter or card, draw a picture, or take a photo and send them to me. Their acts kindness touched my heart, and I hung onto them.

There is also a contrast: I also have a folder on my computer that contains emails and comments that run the other direction – communications that start out like this:

• Dear Bishop: I hate to be critical, and I know you are trying hard, but…

• Hey MMM: People like you are why I left the Church…

You get the idea.  Why would I keep them?  For my enemies list, of course!  Not really.  I keep them because it is a wonderful leveler – a reminder to be humble, and recognize that all has not been rosy.

But the “Drawer of Joy” makes me smile. Nothing warms the heart more than a homemade Father’s Day card written by your 8 year-old son, who is now married. Or a letter describing someone’s return to the fold. I am instantly thrown into the Gratitude-Zone, which is a good place to be.

Thanksgiving is coming up soon. I see lots of memes and quotes and talk about gratitude. I think that over the next week I am going to make an effort to actually show it. I am going take a few minutes to reach out to some people who have blessed my life. Whether by letter or card, email or message, I can bless someone else’s life as well.

Who knows? Maybe some folks out there have a box or drawer with something from me that might help brighten their days.


Bishop art



  1. Oh I love this post. Gratitude is so important and these special keepsakes that give you joy are wonderful. It reminds me of the talk that Russell M. Nelson gave this last conference about joy. I try to notice moments of joy every single day. It levels out any negative things that happen and is so important to our spirits. Have a wonderful week!

  2. When my mom passed, it was nice to read through the thank you notes she had been sent and be reminded of how many lives she had touched. I was glad she saved them and that people had taken the time to express their appreciation.

  3. I love this. It reminded me of something that had a big impact on my life. Years ago when I was a young college student, the Relief Society presidency in my singles ward decided to have a compliment box in which they would have small blank notes available and you could pick several up and write a kind note and compliment to someone in the R.S. We would then told the little pieces of paper and out the person’s name on the outside of it and the presidency would later go through the box and deliver these compliments to the sisters in our ward. It was amazing to see everyone light up each week and no one was left out. They made sure of it. I kept mine and over the years and through many moves, I have periodically stumbled across a little packet of notes that fellow ward members had written to me and I am still so touched by the things that were said that I needed to hear to help me feel better about myself (often when I needed it the most!)

  4. You should move the “people like you are why I left the church” note to your drawer of joy. Because what they were really saying is that they don’t feel comfortable around awesome people. The light of the gospel shines so brightly through you that they couldn’t ignore their own sins and justify their actions anymore. Of course we all have sins and justifications we use. But if we would rather run away from the light than change, it isn’t the light’s fault. So congratulations. People like you help others to hear their conscience again. We need more people like that.
    It is still sad for the person who wrote the note though. So on second thought, maybe you can keep it where it is, but have a different reason for it being a sad email. It is sad that someone could have the light of the gospel in their life and then make the decision to leave it. That never went well for those who left and went over to the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon.

  5. I’m usually poor at following up on good intentions but one time I did write a letter to a Bishop when we moved. He was so good to us, made a wise judgment in our behalf and part of the reason we’ve been successful from that time forward. (32 years ago) Years later (after he was released), I saw him talking to others in the hall during a Stake dance while waiting for my kids. He said he would get up on Sunday morning, jump in his shower and then find himself going slower and slower as he wondered who would criticize him THAT morning! I interrupted with a shocked comment. He turned to me and said, Yes, and Sister O, I used to get out your letter and re-read it. I almost cry when I think how little effort it took to give someone else joy and how many OTHER times I’ve probably blown it.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)