This is day four of my thirty day writing challenge! I think I'm making pretty good time!
Today I'm supposed to write about someone who inspires me. When I first read that, I felt a little stuck. I know that there are a lot of people I really like and enjoy, people I want to emulate or just love reading about. Jane Goodall, Jim Henson, David Bowie, and Malala Yousafzai all come to mind. But I don't think "inspire" means that you really like someone. Or even that you hope some aspects of their life look like your own. I hope I'm as brave as Malala and Jane (who were brave in different ways.) I hope I'm as creative as Jim and as innovative as David. None of those people have ever stirred me to action, though. I double-checked the dictionary today, to see what the word inspire really means, rather than just working off of what I feel like it means. To inspire is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do something. Synonyms include motivate, encourage, influence, and affect. So let me tell you about someone who really and truly inspires me.
My friend Hannah has had a really big impact on my life, in ways that she probably doesn't understand. I've grown a lot as a person and as a Christian in the past several years, and I owe part of that to Hannah. We have never met in person- our friendship exists because of the internet, and our meeting through the Compassion sponsor community. But that friendship means as much to me as if she'd lived next door to me for ten years. Hannah is a patient, gentle, kind, loving person who has inspired and encouraged me in many ways.
Her patience and gentleness when dealing with difficult people has inspired me to try to extend those same qualities when I am frustrated with someone. She may be angered or irritated by some current event, but instead of voicing those opinions publicly, like I might, she shares them quietly with individuals- which avoids a lot of arguments and maddening discussions with people who feel differently, I'm sure. If someone writes something mean or stupid on one of her posts, she deletes the post instead of contradicting them. She shares a lot of joy with the people around her, working hard to encourage them and lift them up if she's surrounded by people who are feeling down. She's inspired me to think before I post, to reconsider my words and my tone, and to be a better representative of my faith (which is all about love and not about arguing.) The person I was on the internet even three or four years ago is so different than the person I am today, and so much of that is due to Hannah's influence. She inspires me to do better in my interactions with people.
Hannah is a great friend to me and is always available to chat, to be a sounding board, to listen to my problems and offer me encouragement. She's very available to her friends and is thoughtful and loving in her responses. If I ask her to pray, I know she will. If I am feeling burdened by something and tell her about it, I know she shares those burdens, too. Yesterday I was so anxious waiting for something to come to pass, and she messaged me throughout the day, telling me that she was waiting with me. She lives hundreds of miles away and we have never been in each other's presence physically, but her heart was with me as she went about her busy day. She inspires me to be a better friend, both to the people in my every day life and the people that I only know through digital interaction.
And Hannah has inspired me to be a better sponsor! Long ago, I "met" her through the Compassion Bloggers network and an old social network the sponsors used to have. I loved her enthusiasm for her kids and the way she cared about each of them as individuals. I loved her blog posts and her ideas for things to send her sponsor kids. Hannah's enthusiasm for Compassion and for ministering to children through letters had a huge influence on me, and inspired me to pray for and write to our kids faithfully. Her passion for the ministry helped awaken a similar passion in me. I really believe part of the reason God placed her in my life was to inspire me to be the best sponsor I can be, which has led to accepting more financial commitments, more correspondence kids, and saying "yes" to God's prompting to go on TWO overseas trips in less than three years. And because of those things, I've had these amazing experiences, met some beautiful people, and now write to over 100 kids all around the world.
Thank you, Hannah, for being so awesome! I'm grateful for your friendship and for the impact you've had on my life!