Encouragement is an art. One that some people would say I am really good at and others would probably find utterly laughable that I would categorize myself as an encouraging person. For every person that I encourage, there are probably several that I overlook. It is very easy for me to encourage the ones I love or people I admire, but for the people I may not know as well, or, to be honest, people I don't like very much, encouragement is far from my mind.
Recently I read a blog post by a woman who said she missed handwritten mail. She posted to her twitter page asking people who wanted handwritten cards to send her their address and she would write them a card or two to brighten up their mailboxes. She was surprised to find that her inbox was loaded with emails from people who wanted "fun mail". She wrote dozens of notes to strangers, and days later began receiving thankful replies from the recipients.
It wasn't the handiness of the gesture or the novelty of receiving mail that isn't a bill that warmed people's hearts, it was the encouragement this simple effort offered. Many, if not most, of those people probably sent off their addresses thinking this woman is never going to respond so when she did the blessing was all the sweeter.
I look across my life and I can think of those people I don't know very well, or those I don't care for and am wondering what might happen if I wrote them a little note? One of my very best friends joked to me a few years back, commenting how much she didn't like me when we first met. I irritated her and completely rubbed her the wrong way. Everything I said and did was annoying and immature in her eyes. I had always suspected this and we chuckled when she finally admitted it.
What changed is that she began to encourage me as a woman, a believer, a wife, and later, a mother. By encouraging me, her heart softened towards me. Encouragement has a funny way of doing that. We can't stay angry or aloof with those God calls us to encourage. We may begin encouraging in hopes of changing the other person, but it's usually us who is going to be changed.
Tomorrow I start work in the moms ministry at church, the perfect field for encouragement, becuase we all know us moms need a ton of encouragement. (That is not sarcasm, that is truth)
On that note, if you are in the Sacramento area and would like to join us, please do so every other Wednesday 9:30-11 at the Arcade Church Fellowship Hall, 3927 Marconi Ave, starting September 5th.. I'll be there, with an encouraging word!