Sandra Dillon: July 22, 2017
In December 2011, I started an annual tradition to select at least three people who had the most influence on my life that year and to write them a hand-written thank-you letter explaining why they had such an impact. That year, one of my chosen few was Anthony Spagnoletti, who is the owner of an auto body repair shop in The Woodlands, Texas, who brought me to Christ. On a Friday afternoon, in June 2011, Anthony changed my life by shooing away his employees and handing off his customers to spend two hours talking to be about God and providing answers to my questions about unexplainable events that were happening in my life. When I left his office that day, all Anthony knew for sure was that he had sacrificed several hours of his valuable time to have serious conversation about God with a woman whom he had just met hours before.
I never had any contact with Anthony after I left his body shop until he received my letter in December. Actually, I assumed he received it and hoped that I would hear from him again, even if it was just a thank you for the thank you. No word! In April 2012 while driving back home from a weekend in Austin, an email appeared on my iPhone which began with “This letter is long overdue…” Anthony wanted to let me know that my thank-you letter had made an incredible impact on him and come just at the right time. He was questioning God and his purpose, and my letter affirmed everything he knew God to be and why he was put on this earth. I changed Anthony’s life that day with my simple thank-you note.
Wow! I assumed Anthony would enjoy hearing that his two hours spent with me was worth the investment. That long-ago Friday night, I thought about everything that we had talked about. I then slept on it, and the next morning while lying in bed, I prayed “The Prayer” and asked Jesus to be my personal savior. The Holy Spirit came in a way I cannot explain, and my life was changed forever. I wanted to thank Anthony for giving me that gift. What I could not have imagined was that I gave him an almost equal gift in return through the simple gesture of writing a hand-written thank-you note.
I wanted to share this story and encourage you to think about those people in your life who have made a difference. Next, take the time to write and express your gratitude. If they left an edible mark on your life, do they not deserve that little bit of your time to put your thanks on paper? You never know what impact you might make on them in return!
There is a post-script to this story which shows how the impact can live on! In July 2017, my husband, Darin, returned to Anthony’s body shop to get his rear bumper replaced. Over the course of some chit-chat, Anthony told Darin that my letter sits safely tucked in the Bible he reads every day. He shared that this letter is the best gift he ever received. My note of thanks is not a one-hit wonder but a lasting legacy for one Godly man. Knowing that my letter continues to have a daily impact inspires me to continue writing those annual thank-you letters and encourage others to do the same.