on leaving your mark

Written by Amy L. Sullivan

SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.

March 21, 2013

leaving your mark

Six-year-old me stood on a new boardwalk in Northern Michigan and looked down. Initials and names etched patterns into the wood, and I wondered why someone would ruin fresh boards, boards still smelling of new wood. I wished for a pen or a rock. I wanted my name included among the many.

Ten years later, I pranced over a frozen river with a bottle of orange spray paint. My fiery, blonde haired cousin knew what she wanted to spray, an artist even at thirteen. She saw a concrete canvas and created. I looked up and saw the belly of a bridge. I bubble lettered “Amy Loves Kurt”, and as I sprayed, I knew three things: I didn’t like fluorescent orange. I didn’t love Kurt, and I burned to leave my mark.

During my fourth year of college, I packed two suitcases and headed to the Navajo Reservation. My first trip West overwhelmed me. When we stopped to photograph the multicolored sign that said Colorado, but meant something more, I penned my initials into the base of the sign. I knew if I turned away for a brief moment, my little “AS” would disappear into the words and ramblings of travelers before me, but I still wrote.

As I get older, I long to leave marks on things other than new wood and concrete bridges. Instead, I find myself scribbling ideas on my fast-moving kids.

And often I think of those who left parts of themselves on me.

I’m not sure you can talk about serving others without talking about people who have invested in us. People who have scratched ideas into our hearts. People who have shown us the best marks don’t point to a person, but point to Him.

Photo credit.


  1. Eileen Knowles

    “best marks don’t point to a person, but point to Him.” Great reminder, Amy!

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Thanks, for taking the time to read and comment, Eileen.

  2. Crystal Rowe

    Oh I remember the days of wanting to leave my mark in places I had been. What a great way to begin conversation about how we leave our mark in places … and how those places leave their marks on us. You’re so right – when we serve – the people that we serve change us so much more than we could ever even dream of changing them. Great stuff to munch on today Amy – thank you!

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Crystal Rowe,
      Oh, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve etched my name into things when I was younger…picnic tables, walls, cement. Just wanting to be seen, I guess.

      Now that I’m a little older, I see invisible marks are just as powerful as the ones in dark black marker.

  3. Sandra Heska King

    You leave a mark with your words, Amy, here in this space. You point to Him. And He has marked you in His palms.

  4. Lisa Van Engen

    I am so thankful to the people who scratched ideas on my heart. I would not be here without them. Your words are pointing us to him and that’s a beautiful thing.


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on leaving your mark

by Amy L. Sullivan time to read: 1 min