We accidentally got to the library eight minutes early. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal . . . but with three spirited boys, eight extra minutes can feel like eight hours. At the time, my sons were seven, six, and four — the perfect ages for high curiosity and low impulse control. As we entered the small outer foyer and I realized the main library wasn’t open yet, low-grade panic set in. My kids were not cut from the “sit still and wait patiently” kind of cloth.
Thankfully we had a bag full of books to return. Let’s draw this out as long as possible, I thought. Each boy excitedly took turns feeding picture books into the automated return system. They oohed and aahed as the scanner scanned each barcode and the title appeared on the nearby screen (and then they shoved a brother to get a better look) as the conveyor belt carried each book to the appropriate bin. Dump. Again!
When our book bag was empty, they slurped water from the drinking fountain, hid under the massive stairwell, asked a gazillion questions about what would happen if the concrete cracked and fell on top of them and would they for sure be crushed and die? There were two trips to the bathroom and a thorough investigation of a row of cupboards that foolishly were void of padlocks. As the minutes inched on, more library patrons joined my energetic crew in the waiting vestibule. Staring eyes weren’t in short supply.
“Be aware of others. Stay near me. Quiet words, please,” I reminded them often.
My boys weren’t being bad — just inquisitive, antsy, talkative, active kids. And after eight minutes, their mama was exhausted. When the clock struck ten and the bell tower began to chime, the large sliding glass doors finally opened. The small crowd began filing into the sanctuary of books. Jude jumped and Elias squealed and Noah started to sprint as I reminded them again to please walk and use inside voices.
An older woman who had been waiting nearby caught my eye. “It’s going to be a long summer,” she said.
“Yeah, it is,” I replied with a weak smile and sigh.
Then her eyes brightened, and her smile warmed. “But you’re doing a great job. Thank you for being here,” she added.
I had braced myself for a stranger’s rebuke — parenting in public is one of the hardest things for me. In the little years, it made me sweat with anxiety. But instead of judgment I was met with the kindness of simple encouragement. All I could do was whisper, Thank you. She gave me a knowing nod and entered the library as I followed my sons — my back a bit straighter, my steps a bit lighter.
A small, unexpected thank-you from a stranger. A word to make someone feel seen. Is there an easier gift of kindness to give?
So I pass on these sweet words to you: Thank you. Thank you for changing diapers and reading stories. Thank you for going to work and still making dinner when you’re dog-tired. Thank you for cheering at swim lessons and folding laundry and answering the billionth question to quench a little person’s curiosity. Thank you for helping your neighbor and listening to your coworker. Thanks for getting to church early to set up or staying late to tear down. Thanks for mentoring that teenager. Thanks for doing your mundane job with a smile. Thanks for putting one foot in front of the other.
Thank you for being you. No one else could fill your shoes.
A small word of encouragement can make a significant impact in someone’s day. Green is a great color on you. You love well. I’m impressed by how you handled that. There are limitless possibilities for how we can build up others.
Proverbs 16:24 explains the significance of our words: “Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (NLT). I can’t count the times that my soul has been revived by the sweetness of someone’s words. Kind words have saved me from teetering over the edge of spiritual doubt and physical exhaustion. A timely word of encouragement has reeled me in from emotional overwhelm and mental fatigue. When I’ve spiraled into the black pit of anxiety and depression, words that remind me that I am loved as I am have made all the difference.
In honor of The National Day of Encouragement, consider how you can lavish the simple kindness of encouragement on those around you. Here are ten easy things you can say to encourage someone today:
- 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 grateful to call you friend.
Look for that frazzled mom in the grocery store or that shy coworker in the corner cubicle. Think of your best friend or the school secretary, the crossing guard or bus driver you pass every day. Stop and say, “Thank you for being here. You’re doing a great job. Your life makes mine better.”
My favorite thing about this is that the power of words is available, accessible, and wieldable for everyone. No one is disqualified from being an encourager.
Whether you’re a college student or a retired teacher. Whether you’ve got lots of littles hanging all over you or lots of deadlines hanging over your head. If you’re chronically ill, underemployed, or climbing the corporate ladder. If you’re happily married or happily single or going through a life-breaking divorce. No matter who you are, where you live, or what your circumstances are in this very moment, YOU can make a difference in someone’s life, one simple, encouraging word at a time.
Ruth Mills says
An encouraging word costs nothing & yet is so powerful in another’s life. Why don’t I do it more often??? The look of wonderment that a stranger would speak up & be kind is as the Mastercard ad says, Priceless. Here’s to more priceless moments given & received all to the glory of Him who loves us best! Bless you for sharing!
Becky Keife says
Amen! How might the world be different if we were all as intentional with our encouragement as people tend to be with their critiques?
Thank you for the reminder. Kinds words are so powerful. I try to acknowledge others but social distancing and masks have done more than keep me physically safe, it has made me interact less with people out in the world. It seems like now more than ever we need to reach out to encourage and say those kinds words.
Becky Keife says
Now more than ever. Yes!
JENNIFER E HASSEL says
Great words. Thank you! This morning (before seeing your post) I read Proverbs 3:27-28 “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it…do not say…’come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’ when you have it with you.”
Though this Proverb wasn’t talking about acts of kindness, it struck me that kindness and encouraging others is something to offer today. I want to be the person who says the nice thing, offers the sweet hand of assistance, goes out of my way to do good for others– now, while that person is in front of me, not tomorrow which, who knows, may never come. Your story of how a simple acknowledgement from a stranger that you were a good mom totally made your day, will inspire me to try to be that encouraging person as I move through mine. Thank you for your post!
Becky Keife says
I’m so glad this was encouraging to you! Yes, I want to be that kind of person too.
Jill Calloway says
Thank you for this reminder to encourage – we all need it! And what a difference it can make in our World.
Thank you. This touched me to the core today. I was also able to turn around and encourage others as a result of it.
Becky Keife says
I love that, Jan! And the person you encouraged will likely now want to do the same for someone else. Ripple upon ripple the impact of our kindness widens.
So timely. Yesterday I was standing in the check out line of my grocery store when the older woman in front of me was unloading her cart. She by accident hit the edge of her cart unloading her soda and dropped the soda onto the floor. As she was reaching for it, her eyeglasses fell off her head. I felt a nudge from the Lord as she was discusted with herself. I said that I do this all the time, and most times I never know where to find my eyeglasses when they’re right on my head. I also told her not to open the fizzy can of soda too soon! We both had a great laugh as she walked out of the store. Indeed, the power of simple encouragement! We’re all fighting the good fight! Thanks Becky.
Becky Keife says
Oh I love that so much, Dee!
I love this, Becky! Your example is so spot on! I raised 3 girls, instead of boys, but there were lots of 8 minute eternities in the early years. Thank you for sharing this insight in helping one another.
Judy Naruo says
I love your words of encouragement….they brighten my day and point me to Jesus.
Tam hall says
This was wonderful. Im helping to raise my 2 small grandsons. Its really been hard when one week they are here with our routine and then there for a week with a whole different routine.
A~all of us
E~energized with kindness ♥️
Beth Williams says
God has made me an encourager. It comes naturally to say kind words or do good deeds for others. At work I constantly thank CNAs, housekeeping & others for helping out. Sure it’s their job, but how nice to hear well done or thanks instead of constant griping-especially at hospitals. I know how it feels to have nice words spoken over you. What astounds me is when others say nice things about me. God had people I volunteer with tell me “I hear you’re a good cook.” It was said more than once. So I took those skills & made some food for them. Just now I sent my hubby an encouraging text at work (CT Tech at hospital-does Covid patients & others).
To everyone here at In Courage-the writers, readers, etc. I appreciate your hard work & the effort you all put in to keep this blog going & evolving. Thank to other readers for commenting. Love reading your opinions. Love this family of women.
Thank you, indeed you inspire me.
“You shine doing that thing you were created to do” Thanks! Excited to read your book, The Simple Difference
Brenda Koinis says
I love this! Thank you for the great reminder.