The door swung open. I didn’t even realise that I’d found the key.
She sidled up to me at the end of the day and told me how much it had meant to her, that little text message with a scripture verse and a “you can do all the things this week!”
All the weeks I’d been trying to find a connection point with her and in the end it was a tiny, almost throwaway act that forged it. It unlocked her. It unlocked her group of friends, who seemed impenetrable from the outside.
They opened up and invited this total stranger into their lives, testing me with snippets about struggles and questions about suffering and meaning and sabbaths. All because of a couple of words of encouragement.
When Steve Murrell turned 50, many people showed up to honour him and share the impact he had had in their lives. One motif was repeated over and over like a meditation: “he believed in me”, “he believed in me”, “he believed in me”.
Something transformative takes place when someone we respect and admire sees something in us that we don’t see and puts courage in us using their words. I don’t know where I would be without the encouragement of others.
When I was a timid, heart-shut-down teenager, encouragement told me that I belonged.
When I was tired of looking for work, encouragement told me that any company would be lucky to have me.
When I ran away and slunk back defeated and broken, encouragement welcomed me home.
When I was hunted down by shame, encouragement pulled me out and gave me a robe and a ring.
When I was stuck, encouragement invited me closer.
When I lost my roar, encouragement lent me hers.
That’s what encouragement does. It finds treasure in people who can’t see it and shouts it out with gusto! It lifts heads and wipes away tears and whispers, “try again, I believe in you”.
Encouragement is the greatest gift we can offer. Just one well-placed sentence can be the difference between packing up to go home and daring to take one more step.
Who will you lend your roar to today?