The Big Difference of Simple Encouragement

We accidentally got to the library eight minutes early and had to wait in the lobby. This doesn’t seem like a big deal . . . but with three young boys, eight extra minutes can feel like eight hours.

First, they excitedly took turns feeding books into the automated return system. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed (and fussed and shoved to get a better look) as the scanner scanned and the titles appeared on the screen and the conveyor belt carried each book to the appropriate bin.

When our book bag was empty, they slurped water from the drinking fountain, hid under the massive stairwell, and asked a gazillion questions about what would happen if the concrete cracked and fell on top of them and would they for sure be crushed? There were trips to the bathroom and investigating a row of cupboards foolishly void of padlocks.

My sweet boys weren’t being bad. Not one bit. Just inquisitive, antsy, talkative, active kids. After eight minutes, their mama was slightly exhausted.

Finally the clock struck 10. The bell tower chimed and the sliding glass doors opened. The small crowd that had gathered filed into the quiet library. Jude jumped and Elias squealed and Noah started to sprint as I reminded them again to please walk and use inside voices.

An older woman who had been waiting nearby caught my eye. “It’s going to be a long summer,” she said.

“Yes, it is,” I replied with a weak smile and a sigh.

Her eyes brightened and smile warmed. Then she added, “But thank you for staying home with them.”

All I could do was whisper thank you back. She gave me a knowing nod as I followed after my sons — my back a bit straighter, my steps a bit lighter.

It’s been a few months and this unexpected encounter has stuck with me. A simple thank you from a stranger — a kind word to make a weary mama feel seen. Is there an easier gift of encouragement to give?

So I pass on these sweet words to you: Thank you.

Thank you for changing diapers and reading stories. Thank you for going to work and still making dinner when you’re dog-tired. Thank you for cheering at swim lessons and folding laundry and answering the billionth question to quench a little person’s curiosity. Thank you for helping your neighbor and listening to your coworker. Thanks for getting to church early to set up or staying late to tear down. Thanks for putting one foot in front of the other, for smiling as you do.

Thank you for being you. No one else could fill your shoes.

National Day of Encouragement is September 12th,  and I keep thinking about what a big impact a small word of encouragement can make in someone’s day. Green is a great color on you. You love well. I’m impressed by how you handled that.

Read the rest of this article and find ten simple tips to encourage someone today on the (in)courage blog.