I walked quickly through the parking lot, pulling my wiggly four-year-old along, sweating and praying I could make it to the car before the tears spilled out.
No such luck.
As I reached my car, I heard my friend holler out her window, “And just where do you think you’re going? Hold on! I’ll pull around.”
And so she did. I opened the door for my kiddo and turned on the car and its blessedly cool air conditioning while my friend parked her car next to mine and waited for me to walk around to her. Before I could finish saying, “Hey . . .” the stupid tears were slipping past my oversized sunglasses and down my red cheeks.
I told her my story, sniffling and rolling my eyes and whisper-shouting so the kids wouldn’t hear. Like a good friend, she agreed with my take on the situation and said the words everyone longs to hear in the midst of an angry cry: “You’re right.”
She didn’t stop there, though. As she maneuvered her two little boys and newborn baby girl out of her van, she said, “You let me know what I can do. If you need me to babysit or host some play dates, I’ll do it. I’ll help you! I want to help.”
Then, after I tied her baby wrap and waited for her boys to move away from my car, we laughed at our awkward parking lot dance. She said, “Oh, I wish this wasn’t happening right now. I know you want to leave.” And I thought, “Oh, I’m so glad this is happening right now. What a blessing I would’ve missed if I’d already left.”
It was just a moment – and just a chance meeting, really. As my friend pulled into the parking lot, flustered with her own story, she had no idea that I was speed walking to my car, overwhelmed with mine. But she knew, when she saw me, that I needed some encouragement. And despite the three kids in her car and her own frustrations and worries, she took a few minutes to listen, to hug, to care.
And it meant a lot to me, that caring, that friendship, that encouragement. Because encouragement is a powerful thing. Whether someone has died, moved, gotten a new job, suffered a disappointment, gotten engaged or just found out that she accidentally enrolled her daughter in the wrong preschool class, a kind word goes such a long way.
How do you encourage friends and family? How do they encourage you?