One of my best friends had a miracle baby last month. I haven’t been able to hug my friend or hold her tiny bundle of joy. I haven’t been able to sit on her couch, linger over a cup of tea, and hear how she is really doing while our boys shoot backyard hoops. I dropped off a meal and stood six feet back on her front walkway as we chatted for a few moments. I peered across the gap that felt like miles into my friend’s tired eyes and shouted through the muffling of my mask what a beautiful and amazing mama she is.
Oh, how I long to encourage her.
My sister is about to turn forty. I pictured driving four hours north to surprise her. I’d take her out for boba and pedicures, then we’d head to the movies to watch something on the big screen with an ample supply of Red Vines. But nail salons and movie theatres are closed, and my sister is cautiously keeping her distance to protect her family.
Oh, how I long to celebrate her.
Another friend is struggling in her marriage.
Another friend is heavy with grief over racial injustice.
Another friend just got a promotion while someone else was laid off.
Another friend is drowning in homeschool.
Another friend just got a horrible prognosis.
And more than anything I just long to be there for each of them — to drive to the other side of town or travel across the miles, to show up on each doorstep with their favorite coffee, a box of tissues, and a fiercely warm hug.
In Romans 12:15 Paul says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
I’ll be honest, friends. It’s hard right now to fulfill these instructions the way my heart longs to. In my state and county, COVID numbers are still soaring and restrictions are high. The flexibility I used to have during school hours is now different as I shepherd my three boys through distance learning. And though I’m thirty-eight-years-old, sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and whine about it in my very own grown-up tantrum because I can’t comfort, connect with, and encourage my friends and loved ones the way I want to. (Mature, I know. Please don’t tell my kids.)
But then I remember a few more of Paul’s wise words. How he said “let us not get tired of doing good” (Galatians 6:9) and “everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
The truth I have to remember is that encouraging others isn’t about me. It’s not about how I prefer to engage, build up, come alongside, and cheer on. Encouragement is about the receiver. What do they need? How does God want to use me to partner with Him in helping meet that need?
Maybe like me you’ve been feeling a bit stuck in your own longing and frustration and “if only I could love and encourage someone in this particular way” pining. Well, today’s the perfect day to cast off the shackles of “I wish things weren’t like this” and lean into a new way of building up a friend, neighbor, sister, or even a stranger.
Today is National Day of Encouragement, and if ever there was a year people in our lives needed encouragement, 2020 has got to be it!
Instead of thinking of all the ways I can’t encourage others right now, I’m celebrating the ways I can:
- Send a text with a favorite verse.
- Pray with someone over the phone.
- Drop off a meal or bag of groceries.
- Look someone in the eyes instead of just passing by.
- Say thank you and compliment the grocery store clerk, drive-thru worker, or the person who lives in your home.
And perhaps my favorite way to hug a friend when I can’t physically wrap my arms around them is to send a snail-mail card. Words of affirmation scrawled in your very own handwriting — even if it’s messy like mine — is a gift of encouragement sure to touch someone’s heart in times of both joy and sorrow.
A card says, I thought of you. A card says, You matter to me. A card says, You are loved and valuable and not forgotten.
Join me today on National Day of Encouragement and send a card (or two or ten) to someone who needs to know they are seen — by you and by God. (I especially love The Struggle Bus card line from DaySpring.)
Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.
Proverbs 12:25 (MSG)
Let’s be women who love well, encourage freely, and pick others up with our words.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
My dad, who has passed away, called it the “lost art of letter writing.” That was long before cellphones and texting were even invented. There is just something about getting a snail mail note or letter that makes you feel like you’ve received something even warmer than a bear hug. It probably comes as no surprise that I like to send cards and notes of encouragement. What a perfect day to get out the old pen and paper and put words to our feelings. Joining with you in writing some notes that will hopefully lift the spirits of someone else. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Great post!
Naturally, you were the first person that I thought of as I was reading this post. You have such a gift for encouraging us all through your comments.
I consider myself blessed to have made this connection.
Have a blessed day!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thanks, Elizabeth…you made my weekend!
I consider myself blessed, as well, that God ordained our paths to cross here 🙂
Becky Keife says
Bev, I love your heart and your words here. You’re so right…there’s something so special about snail mail! I see it in my kids’ faces too every time they get the rare letter or card addressed just to them. What a gift that we can help put that kind of smile on someone else’s face with just a little time and words of encouragement.
Great post! It’s a timely reminder for me to get my pens out (yes, I color coordinate – imagine the smack my head emoji here!) and send some past due cards TODAY!! Your post also struck me with the thought of encouraging children, who’s lives have been turned upside down this year – and since many children aren’t taught cursive writing anymore a curly, swirly note might be just what they need! Two of my husband’s coworkers had babies this week so their encouragement may arrive as an emailed gift card. And I think I’ll email the hubs a piece of encouragement, too. He’s been in fire service for over 40 years and 9/11 is always a rough day for him.
Thanks and Blessings to you all!
Becky Keife says
Indiane, I love all those ideas of ways to encourage people — especially those who maybe need that extra reminder that they are seen, remembered, loved when times are tough.
And thank you for your husband’s service. I’m especially mindful of and grateful for all our amazing fire service-men and women and the families who support them, not only with the recent anniversary of 9/11 but also as a California resident who’s watching another fire season wreak havoc on our communities.
Much love to you and yours!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Becky you know what during the panmic me and my Husband were able a few months back. To encourage a good friend even though she is alot older than us. She is saved. We during the lockdown. Couldn’t go to see her. That was hard for her. As she had just lost her Husband her best friend. As kids don’t live near her. One come down to see her with Grandson when she can which is 100 miles away from her Mum. This friend She doesn’t drive. Husband was saved. So she has not lost all. I told her that in the card I sent her after her Husband passed away. He went into Hospital become he was not well. Then got home. Then after a week or so had to go back into Hospital again. This time it most have been God telling him. He not make it out again. As he told his wife. This time I will not be out again. The wife knew by the way he said it. She never see him out alive. She said to him don’t say that. That was so true. I told my friend in the card I sent her after she lost her Husband. You yes will miss your Husband. But you have good memories of days and times spent together. You have not lost all. You will see him again in Glory with Jesus. But next time he will have a brand new body with no more sickness or suffering. My friend took great comfort it that. Plus we could not go to her Husband furneral. Because of the Pandemic. My friend found that hard. Only family members there. So one day I wrote my friend a letter and sent her a we wooden heart in the letter it said on the heart. A hug for you because we can’t be there. On the card that I wrote the letter. It said Hold in your hand the heart as it a hug from me to you to show I care and you are very special too me. I wrote on the card a hug from us both me and my husband to say we are thinking of you in theses days. Plus keeping you in prayer. Doing those things meant more to my friend than giving her the crown jewels. She still has the we heart hug. That is how we Encouraged her. We also texted her. When we were able to meet up with her. We went to her house to see her when allowed. She was so glad to see us. I took her for coffee. Told her God is with her. It will take time. She thanked us for all we done for her. She doesn’t drive. My Husband out of the love of God took her to see the grave. To Encourage her. All these little things we did in the Love of God help people. Love today’s reading. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Lynne Molyneaux says
Dawn – what a beautiful encouragement and blessing you and your husband were to your friend!
Becky Keife says
Dawn, what a beautiful example of loving and encouraging others in Jesus’ name. No doubt your friend will cherish your encouragement for a very long time.
I’ll keep you and your friends in my prayers; what an emotional roller coaster you’ve been on lately! This was a lovely post. I’ve always sent cards and sometimes placed a small note inside to let the person know I care and share any news.
I just received news this past week that my elderly aunt had a major stroke. She and my late uncle had no children and we’ve been close most of my life. Now I can’t even visit her to hold her hand, pray for her and tell her I love her. As a single person in these “rest in place” times, It can be difficult to be alone. Would you and the (in)courage community please reciprocate and pray for me as well? Thank you.
Karen Knowles says
Yes, Becky, I have always treasured personal notes on cards I have received over the years and have saved many of them. There have been times I have gotten them out to re-read them. It is almost like a visit with them reading something they wrote many years ago, especially from people who are no longer living. Thanks for the reminder of what a blessing personal notes can be and during this time, perhaps even more so. Thanks to Bev and Dawn for their comments as always, so uplifting and encouraging and the other sisters as well.
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you for the inspiration and suggestions, Becky. Another fun way to encourage: compliments for strangers. If I see a woman wearing a lovely scarf, I tell her so. If I see a polite child, I commend him and tell Mom what a great job she’s doing. Family or friends might comment on our clothing or kids, but when a stranger does–someone you wouldn’t expect to notice and who has no ulterior motive–it increases the value of the compliment, I think. And it brings on the smiles!
Beth Williams says
There is a lack “real” communication these days. We use the excuse we are to busy. Jesus was super busy & still took the time for people. Send that text telling someone you’r praying for them, make the phone call, send the card. It really perks a person up. I’m with you on encouraging people. You will find me at work complimenting the EVS (cleaning) people, saying thank you to RNs & CNAs for helping a patient out. Yes it is their job, but it makes them feel good to know someone cares. You will hear me compliment others clothes, hairstyle, etc. On occasion I will send a snail mail card or letter to uplift someone. More often though I will text or email that person. Wanting to shine more of God’s light & love in this sin darkened world.
Sandy McDaniel says
One of my dislikes is when people say they don’t have time and I am to busy. Maybe if we managed our time better. Just take\make time to sit down and write a hand written card, email, call, or text. I have been writing hand writing and sending cards since I was a teenager.
Last year I joined a Pen Pal ladies group on FB and we send cards as often as possible. I started creating my own handmade greeting cards. I retired two years ago and this is something that I challenged myself to do daily. It is a hobby that I truly enjoy. Since the COVID virus I see the need to send out a cards even more.
Thank you for your blog.