Day 67: Encouraged

One of my favorite things to do is to send people a note of encouragement in the mail. Real mail. The kind that requires an envelope and a stamp. I could give you countless stories that people have told me about how encouraging or timely or life giving those notes have been to them.

I send those cards because my love language is words of affirmation. It's how I give and receive love.

A few days ago I had one of the most loving, encouraging conversations I have had in a long time. And it was from a stranger that I met in the bathroom at church.

I guess "technically" she wasn't a stranger, though I didn't know her personally, but she knew me.

I was washing my hands (aren't you relieved to know I wash my hands when I'm finished!) when she looked over at me and said, "Sister Carol?"

I smiled at her and said, "Yes," then extended what was probably a somewhat damp hand and we shook hands, followed by a quick hug.

She said, "I wanted to tell you how much I love your prayers over the offering. They mean so much to me. You have such a sweet tender spirit and it is evident you spend a lot of time in the presence of the Lord."

Ummmmmm, wow. Needless to say, I was incredibly humbled by her statement. (As one of the Pastors of my church, I do the announcements portion of our service about once a month, and that also includes the offertory prayer and the receiving of the offering. So that's the prayer she was talking about.)

What's funny is that the whole prayer is usually like 30 seconds, maybe a minute if I go really long.

And the point of this post isn't my prayer or whether or not it's good, or whether or not I spend a lot of time in the presence of the Lord. (Because trust me I don't spend NEARLY enough time there!)

The point is how miraculously well-timed her words were to me. It had been an incredibly long and difficult day. My heart and mind were heavy with thoughts that would have easily capsized me had I given way to them for long. I was barely hanging on. Inches from tears that threatened to spill over without notice.

And in that frame of mind, over the sinks in the bathroom, the Lord sent this woman, whom I had never met, to encourage me.

Proverbs 25:11 says, "The right words at the right time are like beautiful golden apples in a silver bowl."

And though her words were soothing, I was reminded that my words are not always an encouragement. Often I speak things that do not help or heal, they hurt. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up that it may benefit those who listen."

All that to say, in a day of hurtful words, I was reminded of how much better it is to be encouraged than cursed. With the power to hurt or heal, I should probably be a lot more careful with my words.

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