It was Christmas Eve, and I was excited our little family was going together to the evening service at church for the first time.
After running around, making sure my three young, rambunctious boys were dressed in clean dress shirts and pants, I had taken time to preen myself, putting on makeup, jewelry, and my favourite red dress for the occasion. Taking one last look in the mirror, I felt a sense of accomplishment and like I was a real person again.
We arrived at the church and I walked happily and proudly into the auditorium, greeting and smiling at people as we walked down the aisle to an available pew without too many people in it.
As we settled ourselves and the service began, so did a battle. Each of my boys wanted to sit on my lap and began bickering over who would get the privilege. So to keep the peace, a rotation schedule was quickly established by the lap owner. For the next hour, every ten minutes, a different squirming, touching, whispering little body climbed on and off my bruised and wearying lap.
I jealously gazed over at my husband, who was intently listening to the sermon, unruffled and looking good in his dress clothes, and sighed. I reminded myself I should be glad my sons loved me and wanted to be near me. And as much as I loved my boys and their cuddles, as my dress got more wrinkled and my hair more mussed, I felt a sense of discouragement steal over me.
By the end of the service, as the last occupant scurried off my lap and cheerfully followed their Dad out of the pew, I sat there feeling rumpled, disheveled, and defeated, wondering why I had bothered getting dressed up.
Just then, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, and I turned to look into the face of a tall woman who often sat in the same section of the church as us. Stooping down and looking compassionately into my eyes, she quietly said, “You are doing a good job, Momma.”, and patted my shoulder as she walked out of her pew.
To this day, those words bring emotions of relief, joy, encouragement, and love into my soul!
It may have seemed insignificant to her, although I know she empathized, yet to me, it breathed hope into my struggle of the daily grind as I tried to raise the children God had given into my care. It gave me renewed strength to continue, knowing I was seen and someone cared.
We are often unaware of how meaningful our words of encouragement can be to those we encounter. And while I know my God and Saviour sees me and loves me, He wants us to cheer and encourage each other on because we were created for community. We were created in His image, and as the Triune God, He dwells in perfect and constant community.
This verse reminds me to speak a word of hope and encouragement whenever the Spirit prompts me to do so. There are times when it will seem easy and clear, and other times silly, unwanted, scary, and difficult. However, we don’t know what lies in other people’s hearts and minds. Only the Lord does. So let us freely speak kind words of encouragement to each other. You never know how it may make a difference in someone’s day.