I finally deleted a couple of reminders from my phone this week. Every morning at 8:00 for at least a month now, my phone has been dinging to remind me to write a few thank you notes. After a week, I acknowledged the sound, inwardly cursed myself for being lazy, and got frustrated that whatever I was in the middle of (drinking coffee, probably) was too important to stop doing and write the notes.
Today, I took 8 minutes while my son did homework beside me and wrote three thank you notes. I deleted the reminder and felt 10 pounds lighter.
Can you relate to this at all? Have you had good ideas of something thoughtful to do for someone else but lacked the discipline to follow through? Did you beat yourself up afterward?
Here’s the thing- it’s not the thought that counts. I really wish it was, because I’m incredibly thoughtful in my head, but it’s not.
Last week I also set a reminder that today is Star Wars Day. It’s May 4th. May the fourth be with you. It’s nerdy, but we embrace nerdy around here. Thanks to The Force Awakens, we are all Star Wars obsessed yet again in my house, so I knew I wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the day with my kids. I am also pregnant and tired and today is a long day of homework and laundry. So I knew I had to be intentional about doing something fun or the day would slip by and the opportunity would be lost for another year. When my phone reminded me yesterday afternoon about the big day, I pulled down the cookie cutters, made sure I had the ingredients for the sugar cookies, and schemed the rest of the days menu.
The kids were delighted, the cookies were tasty, and letting the kids help in the kitchen wasn’t nearly as stressful as I always assume it’s going to be. Had I failed to make the cookie dough or ignored my phone’s reminder, and let my kids know tomorrow that I thought about celebrating Star Wars day with them…but didn’t…well, they probably wouldn’t have been very excited. I doubt they would have said, “Oh, that is so sweet of you, mom. Thanks for thinking about doing that. We would have enjoyed that.” Of course not. Like any normal person, they would have been bummed. If they’re like me (and they are, for better or worse), they probably would have responded, “Why on earth did you tell us about something you thought about doing but didn’t? What’s the point in telling us? Just to bum us out?”
It’s not the thought that counts.
One of my pastors literally wrote the book on this
. He talks extensively about caring for his church members by reminding himself to care for his church members
. He sets reminders to check in with people on a regular basis. He wants to do this anyway, but given the huge number of people he meets, knows, comes into contact with, and the fact that his brain never stops working, he needs to be reminded. It almost sounds uncaring to have to remind yourself to care about people, but he points out that wanting to care for people but never doing it? That’s uncaring.
I got a text today from a dear friend telling me that I’m a joy-giver to her.
My son brought home a letter from his teacher listing specific things she loves about him and that make him “officially awesome.”
A friend sent me flowers in the middle of a particularly difficult season in my life.
My dad used to send me comic strips that made him think of me.
Of course some of those are more elaborate than others, but the point is, they all followed through with their thoughtfulness. And truly, that’s what counts.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18