About a week ago, someone told me I was their inspiration.

Her name is Elisabeth and she is a high school student.

She said that my writing inspired her to start her own blog.

When she told me this, I got that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

I knew that I helped her get one step closer to her dreams and influenced her to follow her passion.

Then, I began to think of the people who did the same for me.

As a matter of fact, I am writing this post in order to continue passing on the appreciation to those who helped me along the way.

That is because I know I wouldn't be where I am now without the people who influenced me.

Before I begin, I want you to do this.

I want you to look back over your life and remember the people who made the greatest positive impact on you.

You know, the teachers, the coaches, the friends, that came into your life and changed it for the better.

The ones who believed in you and helped you become the best version of yourself. 

The people who saw your potential and pushed you out of your comfort zone.

Ok, now that you have a few on your mind, think of how they each influenced you to be the person you are today.

How did their direction lead you to where you are in life at this moment?

I bet you are feeling pretty thankful for those influential people right about now, aren't you?

Well, I know when I looked back and remembered the ones who helped me most, I felt very blessed.

So, I decided to say thanks.

This post is an open letter to the people who inspired my life up to this point.

I have only been on this earth for 21 years, but I can confidently say that I've had many great influencers along the way.

Hopefully those people are reading this right now.

Anyway, if you are one of them then you are either a professor, pastor, counselor, or leader that truly molded me into who I am today.

You challenged me to go beyond what I thought I was capable of.

As you know, I am not the most 'take charge' type of person.

Usually, you had to give me a little push that I wouldn't have volunteered for.

If you were a professor you may have encouraged my participation in class or critiqued my work, only to expand my knowledge further.

Maybe you told stories of your life that inspired me to work hard and never stop learning.

If you were a worship leader influencing me, you may have pushed me to step out and lead songs alone, even if I didn't feel "ready".

You saw that I could do it and you gave me a chance to lead, even though you were perfectly capable of leading it yourself.

These experiences shaped me and challenged me to believe in my gifts, simply because you believed in them.

Some of of you even asked me to play piano AND sing at the same time...shortly after you realized that I wasn't kidding when I said I wasn't very good at that.

Needless to say, I am still working on it but I'll just stick with the singing for now.

Point is, you let me try it on stage even though it was a risk.

Even if I messed up, I learned from it and I improved because of it.

You gave me a chance, despite my lack of qualifications and you allowed me to give it a shot.

That is true leadership.

Or maybe you are a counselor that listened to me and helped me through some of the hardest times of my life, or a pastor that spoke into my situation.

You may have opened up your home to let me stay with you, expecting nothing in return.

Or you allowed me to interact with your family and enter into your story, before even knowing me personally.

Whatever the case may be, your sacrifice meant everything to me and I will never forget how much you blessed me during the seasons our paths crossed.

But you know what? There is one thing that makes each of you similar, and that is you all have a heart for Jesus and strive to be more like Him everyday.

This is what I look up to the most.

It is your faith that compels you to do these selfless acts for others, even when it doesn't make sense to the world.

In all reality, your time, money, effort, and space are at stake when you do these things.

No one is forcing you to go above and beyond, so why do you do it?

No one made you give me piano lessons, or told you to let me sing a song at church, or spend an extra 20 minutes to talk to me about how I'm doing.

That wasn't in the job description or even the volunteer description for that matter.

But you did it anyway because a force inside of you lead your life, despite outside influences.

And that force is the love of Jesus.

It pours out of you and you do things that involve dying to yourself, in order to lift up others.

That is the most incredible type of leadership and you have no idea how much it has inspired me.

Thank you for letting Jesus lead your life, so that you could lead me and others like me with wisdom, passion, and humility.

God sees your sacrifice and your reward is waiting in heaven.

As I said before, I've only lived for 21 years but I hope that I can be like you when I grow up.

I guess now that I've entered the "real world", I've grown in appreciation for you and the more struggles I face, the more I see how much you gave up for the people around you.

Currently, I am packing up boxes to move to North Carolina.

In a couple of weeks, I will be interning with Elevation Church for copywriting/project management, in addition to leading worship on the weekends.

These opportunities were definitely God ordained and it is a long story to explain how I reached this point.

I'll save you from the long details and just say that after all of the auditioning, job interviews, and rejection, I was able to reflect on my life and remember what you taught me.

When I was on the stage auditioning, I remembered to focus on worshipping, so that everything else would fade away, like you said.

When I was interviewing, I thought of your business class and remembered to value myself.

The lessons are endless.

Without you, I don't know where I'd be.

All I know is that each of you helped me along in separate stages and now, here I am.

The best word I can use to describe how I feel at this point is, blessed.

And I pray that God will continue to bless you as well for the way you blessed me.

I'm not sure how many times I've said thanks in this letter, but I'll say it again, thanks.

Truly, I can't say it enough.

Ultimately, I know I have a lot more to learn but I will never forget what I learned from you.

"Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:6-10 ESV)

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.(Proverbs 11:4 ESV)

"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children..." (Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV)

So now it's your turn. It's time for you to reach out to the people who changed your life for the better and give them some appreciation. Let's spread the encouragement and remember the leaders who helped us get to where we are today and just say thanks. They deserve it. Challenge accepted?

Always love,

D A R C Y 


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