It had been a long, hard day, and I was feeling drained and discouraged. My calendar was full and my to-do list was long. I didn’t have a good attitude about any of it, and I know the people around me could tell. I was feeling frustrated, unappreciated, overwhelmed, and just pretty grumpy. Ever feel that way?
I was sitting at my desk, attempting to get tasks done before the work day ended, and I realized that while I really just wanted to vent and complain, I needed to instead choose to do something positive.
I grabbed the box of notecards out of my drawer, and took a few quick moments to write out notes of encouragement for my coworkers. As soon as I started writing, I felt my mood start to shift. The to-do list was still long, and there were still stressful situations to be resolved, but as I intentionally chose to do something uplifting for the people around me, I could tell my own spirits were lifting too.
I left the notes on my coworkers’ desks that afternoon once everyone had left for the day, and all of them sent me messages the next morning thanking me for the encouragement. At that point, I didn’t even need that affirmation from them -- the simple act of doing the encouraging had been the exact encouragement my own soul had needed. My little gift to them had turned out to be so much more of a gift to myself!
Becky Keife tells a sweet story in her recent article “The Big Difference of Simple Encouragement” for (in)courage about a “thank you” a stranger at the library gave her during an outing with her young, rowdy kids. She mentions feeling exhausted and an older woman stopping to tell her “thank you for staying home with them.” It was such a simple interaction, but it was one that stuck with her.
“A simple thank you from a stranger-- a kind word to make a weary mama feel seen. Is there an easier gift of encouragement to give?” Keife asks.
When the worries and stresses feel big, it can seem daunting to do anything. But really, it doesn’t need to be hard to share encouragement and kindness with others (and our own selves, too).
“Simple words are the uncomplicated gift we can all give one another without cost or limit,” Keife writes. “I have saved voicemails and texts from friends when their messages of affirmation were well-timed lifelines of hope and assurance. I digest their encouragement like soul nourishment.”
I, too, have saved messages on my phone and shoeboxes full of cards from friends and notes taped up to my mirror that encourage me daily. I’m sure most of the friends who sent me that encouragement have long forgotten the words they wrote, but for me, they’re a source of constant comfort and a reminder that I am known, loved, and valued.
The notes I wrote to my coworkers, the comment of the stranger to the mama at the library, the saved text messages-- none were fancy or flowery or anything especially extravagant. They were just genuine, heartfelt, kind, and more importantly, they were shared at the right time.
There is surely someone in your life today who could use a sweet word of encouragement. Everyone around us has something that is hurting them, worrying them, distracting them, or weighing them down. Keep your eyes open today for who those people might be in your life today, and open your heart to opportunities where you can speak words of life, love, and encouragement to them.
It doesn’t have to be anything wild or crazy, but can be as simple as looking at someone in the eye and kindly saying “thank you,” or jotting a note to leave on a coworker’s desk, or texting a faraway friend with a “thinking of you” message.
If you need even more ideas to help you get started today, here are 10 simple things to say that Keife shared in her article:
- I see you.
- I’m proud of you.
- God made you beautiful.
- You shine doing that thing you’re created to do.
- I’m thankful for you.
- You inspire me.
- I appreciate your hard work.
- God delights in you.
- You make my day brighter.
- I’m blessed to call you friend.
See? Not too hard! Pick one (or several) things on that list today and make the intentional effort to encourage others. I guarantee your own heart will be encouraged too. What a gift it is to share love and feel loved in return!
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: September 14, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.