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.