As a Meridian team, we thought it would be fun to issue a challenge we are calling “The 14 Days of Valentine’s Day”, an opportunity to do something simple to show your love for the people in your life during the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. Follow Meridian on Instagram or Facebook to see the challenge posts and use #LoveOneAnother to get involved.
This challenge primarily involves writing, texting, or emailing. Here is why:
As a custodian spoke at his retirement dinner from the local high school, he reported that in all the time he worked, cleaned and scrubbed through the generations of high schoolers that walked his halls, he had only received two thank you notes. One note came from my Nana (a member of the school board) who always tried to take special notice of the work custodians did to keep schools clean. The other note he received years earlier from my Papa (the principal) before he died. A thankless job, janitorial work is, but as he toiled invisibly, these two individuals (my maternal grandparents), unbeknownst to each other, extended not only kind words but the message that this man was seen.
Isn’t being seen what we all yearn for? We hope that the long nights of parenthood will mean something to someone or the work we put into our callings will make a difference, even if it is small. We desire that anybody will recognize us through the haze of mortality and reflect back to us who we really are—a glimpse and reminder of our eternal spirits.
I think of Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, who conceives at Sarah’s allowance but is then dealt with harshly. In the vulnerability of a new pregnancy, the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her that if she submitted to Sarah that her seed would be multiplied and that she would bear a son. Hagar then responds poignantly, “You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me,” (NIV Genesis 16:13).
We worship a God who sees us, not only with all of our weaknesses and woundedness but with all of our potential and light. I want my eyes to reflect His own and help others feel seen.
My Nana and Papa are not the only ones who have written meaningful letters to others. In fact, I have recently learned that I come from a long line of letter writers on both sides of my family. My Grandma Proctor learned from her mother and with that legacy wrote her grandchildren every week on their missions (even when I was serving in Zambia and the post sometimes took months to arrive!). Note writing is in my DNA, with the goal of reflecting the light that someone may be blind to in themselves.
Before I came home from my mission, I wrote over 100 letters to people in my various areas who had touched my life. As I penned each letter, I envisioned the person and how they had impacted me for good and tried to reflect their deepest souls in the words I strung together.
To the district president in Blantyre, Malawi: your commitment to ministering to the Saints has taught me more about selfless service than perhaps anyone I have ever worked closely with. I remember one day after church finding you in your office eating from your lunch pail and readying yourself to walk from home to home to minister to our branch, despite the torrential storms of rainy season and the muddy rivers flowing through the streets. This symbolized to me the way the Savior is ready and willing to help in any storm that comes our way.
To my friend whose family did not approve of his membership in the Church: I know it is not easy to defy the expectations of parents you so deeply respect and admire and who are recognized in the community for their leadership in the church you once called home. Your valiance in the face of adversity will make you a powerful force for good and a missionary that will bring countless people to the Savior.
In our culture, it is easy to feel that big service is the only service—soup kitchens, clothing donations, food banks, etc.—yet the impact of sincere words from a person who sees you can sometimes make the most individual impact, even from a stranger.
I will never forget when a stranger saw me. I was crying my eyes out to my mom as I sat on a couch in the Wilkinson Center at BYU. I was about to get a very intensive jaw surgery and had to finish all of my finals a week early in preparation, and I felt overwhelmed and alone. In my blubbering state, I did not have the wherewithal to notice anyone around me who may have been listening in, but as I got off the phone, a girl walked up to me with a smile and handed me a candy bar and a note. “I hope you have a better day,” it read.
I was floored. My tears had come rather embarrassingly and uncontrollably in a public place, and yet that sitting area happened to have a stranger who had their eyes wide open and had a glimpse into my heart.
In my most recent challenges, I have profoundly struggled at times with the sometimes painful unknown. In the midst of a great deal of anguish, I got a text from my friend telling me to check the porch. There I found flowers, homemade bread and a note that expressed so much love and confidence in who I am and my ability to cling to hope in the midst of something hard. In a moment of hopelessness, she saw me and reminded me exactly who I am.
While distance and COVID-19 regulations may separate you and prevent you from doing all that you would normally to serve and love, words can pass through the barriers of masks, plexiglass, and walls to touch souls and help them know that they are recognized, important, and someone worth noticing. A text message may take you 1-2 minutes to compose but could change around someone’s whole day or life.
In my hope and desire to see others, I am embarking on what I am dubbing “The 14 Days of Valentine’s Day”: two weeks of writing to someone each day to let them know of my love and appreciation. As a Meridian team, we offer our challenge to you to take a moment each day to really see someone else and offer a word or gesture of love and acknowledgement. In this way, we are acting as the Savior would and striving to see as He sees.
Here are some fun ideas to get you started!