I was in my early twenties. I had graduated from college with a degree in education but still couldn’t find a full time teaching job. I waited each morning then for the phone to ring so I could work as a substitute that day. It wasn’t easy. One day I would be teaching high school science and the next day I would be chasing Kindergartners around a playground. This time I found myself in a local grade school substituting for a 5th grade teacher for the day. In spite of being a substitute I was determined not to just slide by. I went over the lesson plans, taught the subjects, and stayed positive with the students. I smiled, congratulated the kids when they got something right, and encouraged them if they didn’t. I was determined to emulate the great teachers I’d had when I was a boy and not the critical ones who always left me feeling bad.
At the end of the day just as they were leaving the room to get on their buses a girl handed me a folded note. I waited until they were all gone before I opened it. It was a lovely drawing full of childlike wonder and a note that said: “You are the best teacher I have ever had!” My mouth fell open in shock. It really amazed me that one of my kind comments had touched that girl’s heart so deeply. I took that note home and put it in a folder. Anytime I was feeling down or discouraged I would look at it and it always made me smile. Sadly, I lost it during one of the times we moved, but it still exists in my mind and heart.
That experience too showed me the power that a single kind word can have on a life. I never did see that girl again, but I pray that her life has been full of kind words and loving people. And I continue to try my best each day to let God’s love and kindness live through my words and my life. May you do the same. May you fill your words with kindness and your life with love. You will do so much good. You will create so much joy. And your life will never be the same.