Five years ago, I received a message from the parent of a former student. The message read, 

“Good morning, I’m not sure if you remember, but my daughter came to see you during your last year at the middle school when she was in 5th grade. She was really struggling with being bullied and having health problems. You made a huge impact on her and were a tremendous help. The next year, she went to the new school counselor and had the opposite experience. We made the decision to homeschool about halfway through the school year. She graduated in May and has been praying about what she wants to do in the future. She will be starting college in January. She said God is calling her to be a school counselor. She wants to make a difference for someone like you did for her. I want to thank you for helping my daughter so many years ago. You were more of a blessing than you will ever know. Thank you again for helping her. God bless.”

The notion that one positive relationship can significantly impact a child’s wellbeing is not lost on educators. In fact, a study from Harvard finds “the availability of at least one stable, caring, and supportive relationship between a child and an adult caregiver” empowers children to build resilience in the face of adversity (Walsh, 2015). 

One relationship. 

Can you think back to people in your life who have supported you, stood by your side, and encouraged you? God places people in our lives at exactly the right time, when we need them the most, and He uses us in the same way for others when they need us — when they need Him.

I was fortunate to have people who fit this role throughout my life:

A high school youth pastor who ate lunch with me and my friends at school every Tuesday.

A missionary who prayed with me at summer camp when I was nine.

A family member who asked about my friends by name, even while living in another state.

A friend who tied my shoes every day at school after my back surgery. 

A friend who helped me run errands in college and picked me up at my dorm to drive me to church each week. 

A teaching colleague who met me at sunrise to pray for our school every morning.

People who invested in me showed me the love of the most important relationship of my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Have you been that person for someone else? Are you the one positive relationship they need in the face of a difficult road, the person who can point them to Christ? Matthew 5:16 tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (NIV). 

How can you be a light for others? Offer a listening ear, commit acts of kindness, send a friendly text, share laughter, or spend intentional time together. Continue to show up and reach out. Offer the light of Jesus in your interactions. It might take years, and you may not ever know the full impact you made. But if you listen, and step in when God chooses you to be there, you can be His light to someone during a most impressionable time.

Walsh, B. (2015, March 23). The science of resilience. Harvard Graduate School of Education. https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/15/03/science-resilience. 

Ashley Bartley, M.Ed., NCC, is a school counselor, author, and curriculum writer. Her children’s books, Diamond Rattle Loves to Tattle (2020) and Opal Octopus Is Overwhelmed (2021) are part of a social emotional learning children’s book series published by Boys Town Press. Her writing has also been published in The Joyful Life Magazine and on the Kindred Mom blog. She lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and three young boys.