Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Bit of Encouragement

"What wonders a bit of encouragement can do! It’s one of the most awesome treasures God has given us – the ability to inspire, motivate, and reassure others.
~Barbara Johnson~

Once, long ago, I was walking into a shopping mall in Chico, Calif.  Just an ordinary day, with two young boys in tow, going to get some school clothes.  Suddenly out of nowhere, a young woman came rushing up to me and asked, " Aren't you Marsha ?"  I said that I was, but wondered who she was, as I could not recall ever meeting her before.

She smiled and said, "I thought that was you.  I just wanted to let you know that I heard you speak in Redding one time years ago, and I never forgot what you shared that evening."  She then proceeded to give me a quick thirty-second recap of what my topic and main points had been on the evening in question, nearly a decade earlier.  Then she breathlessly said, "I just had to speak to you and let you know that you changed my life that night.  Thank you again."  And she rushed off.

I was left standing there surprised, humbled, and very grateful.  Sometimes we wonder whether we are ever making any real difference in anyone's life.  That day, that young woman gave me such a word of encouragement that I have never forgotten it. 

Giving and receiving encouragement, either way it is such a privilege that it is a mystery to me as to why we do not engage in it more often.  It costs so little to offer a word of support, or to share a quick motivational illustration - and yet, it may yield wonderful dividends in someone's life, as well as in our own. 

I married very early and had children right away, and thus, did not have the opportunity to go to college.  This was a long held dream for many, many years.  Occasionally, I would get the opportunity to attend a nearby community college extension class.  It was like getting a drink of water in the desert for me.  However, because my life was circumscribed by my parental and household responsibilities, I doubted whether I really "had what it took" to pursue higher education.

Then one day, I turned in a paper for a creative writing class, and the instructor told me that it was very good; so good, in fact, that he thought I should try to get it published.  "Really?", I asked, hardly able to believe what he was telling me.  "Do you think I could do OK in some other type of classes, too?"

"Marsha,"  he replied, "I think you could ace any class they have over at the university."

It was the first time anyone had given me that kind of affirmation.  It stayed with me for the next two decades, while I raised three children.  Eventually, I did obtain first a bachelor's and later a master's degree.  But I may not have had the courage to even try it (especially since by then I was often the oldest student in the class) if it had not been for that young professor many years earlier.

Encouragement lingers, it affirms, it warms the heart during long days and longer nights of self-doubt.
And then someone speaks a word of support and a grey day becomes lighter and more hopeful.

My mother was a nurse for over 30 years. During her final illness a young hospital aide came to me to say, "I have decided I can become a nurse after all, after talking with your mom during these last few days.  She was such an encouragement and I now believe I can do it."  Even on her death bed she was still affirming others.
Whether it is a shy student in a Sunday school class, or a quiet neighbor who seldom says hello - we never know when just a few kind and encouraging words may make someone's day.  This is a gift God has given us to share with each other.  The opportunity and the ability to encourage one another. 

And so, "... Encourage one another with these words" - God tells us to follow His example.  After all, Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am you may be also.  If it were not true I would have told you so."  Talk about encouragement!  God bless you. .... Marsha Y.


  1. Encouragement lingers, it affirms, it warms the heart during long days and longer nights of self-doubt.

    I hadn't thought about this, but it's true. I often go back to the encouraging words of others. Encouragement lingers . . . there's a phrase I won't forget soon.

  2. Thank you, Tami
    Your encouragement about this post is a blessing to me. Have a good day. ....Marsha Y.

  3. Oh Marhsa I wish I hadn't missed this quote. I began working again full time so have had less free time. But encouragement is something I value both in giving and I love to receive it too.

    Thank you for sharing the story of that lady who remembered your talk and also how you were encouraged to go to college. Good for you! And I have to agree; you have a talent for writing and your daughter follows after her mama.

  4. Debbie - Thank you once again for your comments. I just visited Heart Choices and enjoyed "through the eyes of a child."