Free week…what do we discuss this time? How about random acts of encouragement?
This week I ran across a post on Facebook for “The World Need More Love Letters”. It was started by a young woman who suffered from loneliness and low self-esteem. She had moved to New York City and started leaving notes “To Whoever Finds This” around town, just to talk…and often, she received answers.
Somehow, as she was getting herself together, she realized just how much a little encouragement meant to not only herself, but to others She realized how, at times, the incredible power of knowing that one person cared or just took one moment for one other person, had kept her going and could keep others going. And she could see that people seemed to get a great deal out of reaching back out to her.
In my own case there have been some low times in my life. Quite a number, in fact. I suffered from incredible shyness and low self-esteem. We had a policy of secrecy in my family and a general lack of encouragement. There was a big fear of failure on one side, which pretty much doomed many to that very end, from fear of trying. Only some members got encouragement, others, well, not so much.
Even when I had gotten beyond some of the shyness and actually gave some efforts a real shot, life still hit some lows. At one point, with family and every other possible problem happening to, (or around), me, I pretty much subsisted on prayer and a semi-anonymous prayer groups.
The first group let people ask for prayer and give quick responses, or at least to tell each other that we had them in thought. Sometimes we only knew each other by our initials or code names. That one moved to another site where one could even leave details of problems or concerns, (anonymous, if they’d like), and others could, through the site, answer each other personally in detail directly to their email, (also anonymously, if referred).
When I got on them, it was nice to know that someone cared and that there were actually a few people who had very similar problems to mine. After a few heart-felt communications, I exchanged email addresses, then addresses and sometimes phone numbers with three women with whom I became close friends, with whom I could be frank…and with whom I could give understanding advice and/or commiseration.
More than once I heard from them, “You know, there were times when I that kept me hanging on one more day was to read: ‘I’m praying for [her name].’”. One told me that it once kept her from considering ending it all. You never know what one encouraging word can do.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta equated listening to a lonely neighbor as much of a charitable act as going to India to care for the lepers. It’s that important.
Often one helpful word can do more good than the damage of what one discouraging word can do, and we all know how much lasting harm one wounding word can do.
But the prayer groups are gone, too expensive to keep up, which is unfortunate. We even had people who identified themselves as atheists and those of every religion post in, people who have the same cares and worries, concerns and problems… and compassion for others.
I looked at the Love Letter site and clicked to the next step. There were requests from family and friends people, (only four at a time), who are experiencing problems, asking for encouraging notes, ‘love notes’, as it were, for them.
A few hit home with me. I am almost certain I know why some of the behaviors that the persons are exhibiting come from, where the fears came from that they have. So, maybe a couple of notes I could send might give a little encouragement to the people. Maybe not, but I couldn’t help myself from trying, worth a few moments of my time and the price of a couple of stamp.
There are times when a few encouraging words would have made a difference in my life.
So, tell me…have you ever had encouragement from a stranger that meant something to you?
Did you ever have a turning point from just one bit of encouragement?
Have you ever felt the need to reach out to a stranger?