Last Sunday my husband Justin preached a sermon on loving well by being FOR our husbands, wives, kids, friends, family… At the end, he passed out small white cards with the words “I am for you” printed in sunshine script. He said, “Use them liberally.”
And people have.
Here’s what my friend Mark posted on Facebook:
He wrote: ”It’s just a small, nondescript, 2”X3” card with few words but this is what I’m actually saying when I give one to Mary Kay.”
And this is what my friend John, an architect, posted for his wife:
I found my first card on Wednesday during women’s Bible class as I opened my journal to jot down a thought. Lying across a blank, yet-to-be filled page was the card. Beneath “I am for you” Justin had written, “Today and always.”
Ten minutes later my friend Amy walked by my seat and put a card beside my purse.
This week has been a hard one for me. The holidays are coming and I always feel weird and stressed and complicated during this season. I’ve started my new dairy free and gluten free eating plan (grrrrr), and I wrote a post that was hard to write, one that made me feel vulnerable and reminded me of all the reasons I hate blogging (I have a laundry list). On Wednesday I really wanted to stop blogging. Forever.
But then I got a note from my husband. And a note from my friend Amy.
And the encouragement didn’t stop there. In the last week or so, I’ve received an unusual outpouring of Facebook messages from encouraging friends, wall posts from folks I haven’t talked to in years, texts, super-supportive blog comments, and emails from readers I’ve never met.
My daughter Eve said, after I read a recent post out loud, “That was a good one, mom.”
It’s like the universe is conspiring to encourage me.
I told Justin yesterday, “I would have quit writing a long time ago if you hadn’t been so FOR me.” And then I thought of all the other people who’ve been FOR me in the past year or so—my small group, my Wednesday morning Bible class, the high school kids who read my stuff through Tumblr, and the older folks who read it via Facebook. You have all been so affirming.
And that’s the only reason I’m still writing.
I’ve been loved well.
There are moments in our lives when we have gone as far as our feet will take us, when we look ahead and see only the foggy impossible and drop to our knees, faces in our hands. Done.
That has been my experience.
But it has also been my experience that friends come to my side and lift my fallen face and shine a light, perhaps a single shaft, into the pitch black tomorrow. They take my hand and lift me to my feet. They fill my backpack with KIND bars and hand me a cold canteen. And they tell me to walk.
And I look into their eyes, them so sure and full of excitement, and I think maybe I can take another step. And I do. And they applaud. And I keep stepping, the rhythm of palm pressed into palm marking and making my march.
We need love. Love says, “I am FOR you.” Love says, “I believe in you.” Love says, “I’ll walk with you.”
I’ve been loved well and it makes me want to love well back.
So I’m trying to be generous with praise and encouragement:
- If I appreciate a person I tell them—in the moment or via a “thank you for your awesomeness” note.
- I use the like button on Facebook with abandon.
- I read my friends’ blog posts and make comments (because comments are so, so affirming).
- I tell my girlfriends they’re good moms and good wives.
- I tell the song leader how much I value what he does.
- I write letters.
- I send texts.
I don’t always remember to do this. My life gets crazy and I get lazy. But I want to do it. I want to do it because I know exactly how much it matters.
I had a bad day today, but my husband sat beside me in my car and told me I was strong and that being sad wasn’t weak. If he didn’t say it with words he said it with his face—I honestly can’t remember which.
He sent me a text later that said #womanofvalor.
And my day changed. Black clouds vanished. Tears tucked neatly back inside their tiny ducts. Down, I found myself lifted, encouraged—given courage.
We need to encourage more people. Whenever we can. No excuses.
Stop saying to yourself, “I’m sure she already knows” or “He’ll just get a big head.” Nope and nope. Say it.
Praise God for His gifts. Let God be glorified in the work He’s doing in and through His people by our noticing that work, pointing it out, and saying to our brothers and sisters, masterpieces of grace and glory, “I see God in you.”