Recently I went for a much-needed walk around my neighborhood. It was one of those nights when my mind was swirling with the details of life and my heart was heavy. As I walked, I saw an elderly couple that lives down the street. I visit with this couple from time to time, but we are not close friends. We talk about their health (which isn’t good), my kids, and we let our dogs sniff noses. When I saw this sweet couple in their yard that night, I decided to stop and visit. It was a short visit but a nice one; and I was happy to hear that they were doing well. As we talked, I noticed that my heart did not seem as heavy as when I left my house. My mind was not swirling with all the details of life. Instead, I was just thankful to be on my walk and to hear that God was at work in my neighbors’ lives.
As I started to leave, the frail husband did something that I will not soon forget. With great effort he lifted his head in order to look at me. He then worked hard to focus his eyes on my face. Slowly and purposefully he told me, “We love you.” Surprised and touched by the effort that it took for him to say this, I didn’t know how to respond. I simply said, “I love you, too.”
As we said our goodbyes and I continued on my walk, I began thinking about the significance of his words. I thought about the chance that we have each day to bless the life of others. I was reminded that we never know how a small thing like saying, “We love you” can actually be a big thing in another person’s life. That night the man’s words rang “big” in my heart.
Speaking words of encouragement involves using words to bless the life of others. The significance of a spoken blessing cannot be overstated. The Bible is full of wonderful examples of God’s people blessing one another. In the Old Testament, God instructed His people to bless one another by saying, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, New International Version) This passage of Scripture, along with others, teaches the importance of using our words to help others, not to hurt them.
Have you noticed that the words of others can leave a scar in your life that is deep and painful? It grieves the heart of the God when these types of words are spoken between His children. I am sure that you can think of examples of words that have hurt you. My question is, can you think of words that have helped you? If so, you know the significance of the spoken blessing. Maybe the words came in a card, email, text, phone conversation, or face to face. No matter how the words were delivered, they made an impact because they were delivered with love and sincerity of heart.
Here are a few ways you can share words of encouragement with the people that you love. On special events like birthdays, anniversaries, or “send off’s” to camps or activities, take time to encourage the family member who is being celebrated or sent off. This time of encouragement involves each family member sharing one or two things that they recognize and value about the individual. Then pray for the person and ask God to bless them in a special way. Also, written notes in backpacks or lunch sacks can remind our family members that we are praying for them throughout their day.
I also intentionally look for opportunities to speak words of encouragement into the life of my extended family members and friends. Again, special occasions like birthdays, job promotions, and important life events offer opportunities to bless the life of others.
Some practical ways to bless the life of extended family members and friends include creating a top ten list where you record all the things that you love and value about the person being recognized. You could write a letter to them and chronicle your family or friendship journey. In the letter, take the time to highlight all the ways that God has used that person in your life. There is a good chance that you remember details of your relationship that the other person has forgotten or never knew touched you. Remember to share with your family member or friend how you are praying for them.
Isn’t it good to know that as wives, mothers, aunts, friends, or co-workers, we can use our words to build up the most important people in our lives? This week, take time to bless the people around you with heartfelt words of love and encouragement.