Sunday, March 14, 2010

Encouraging Words

What are the words that tell you how special you are?

Between my first and second grade of school, we moved to a new community. While there were only 23 kids in my class, I never fit in. Dad was the Methodist minister, in third grade I had a terrible heart condition that set me apart from everyone else, I was transient and it seemed as if everyone knew I wouldn't be there for long, I was bright, I excelled in my studies and in music. We didn't have a lot of money, so mom made most of my clothes or fixed hand-me-downs from other families in the church. I thought independently and refused to make an attempt to fit in with the crowd. I was different.

Those were the days when girls were expected to invite everyone from their class to slumber parties and birthday parties. My heart managed to act up at one of the first ones I was invited to and Mom had to come get me. Parents weren't thrilled about that responsibility, so I didn't get invited to many more.

I was more comfortable around older kids and adults than I was children my age. One of my best friends was Gladys Rhodes, a much older woman who lived next door.

All of these things combined to beat me down on a regular basis. More than once I came home from school in tears because of the things those nasty little girls said to me during the day. Do you know that I still have an intense fear of leaping onto a stage because my short little legs didn't reach and they laughed at me? That's forty or more years ago!

Every time I would stand in front of Mom with tears running down my face, she took the time to remind me that she loved me, that I was special and that my life was not defined by hideous little girls who were jealous of me.

She took the time day after day to remind me of my uniqueness. She went out of her way to encourage me to stand on my own, even when it seemed I was alone. Those things that made me different - my reading skills, my music, my independent thinking - were gifts and even though I couldn't see how they were positive at that moment, a day would come when I would be grateful.

The amount of time that Mom invested in my self-esteem is what made me who I am. I still hear her voice in my head when doubts assail me. Her words of affirmation continue to remind me that I am unique and special, I am bright and talented.

We don't hear or speak those words often enough. Who do you speak them to? Who hears from you how amazing they are? Who do you build up and encourage with words on a regular basis?

I could ask you who speaks these words to you, but that's not where the focus should be. You see, we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking that the world should tell us how terrific we are. I know it's necessary ... it's very necessary. But, I can promise you that if you invest all of that time you spend worrying about how the world views you - telling others how incredible they are ... finding their strengths and reminding them of those things - you will discover that the world builds your esteem.

I will start ... every single person I know is filled with incredible gifts. As I think about you individually, I can come up with unique traits that make you important to me and to others who love you and rely on your life in their world. I hear your voices, I read your words, I know your heart and I sense your intentions. This world needs what you have to offer.

2 comments:

Rebecca said...

From probably the first time I "met" you (and by met I mean read a comment by you hehehe)... you have been an encourager... always bringing out the best in what you say or leave as a comment, always pushing me out of comfort zones and cheering me on with my hairbrained ideas and thoughts. Because of you I have become better at doing the same for others and I just wanted you to know that and thank your mother for that because I guess she was where the ripple began! I love your uniqueness and your brain and your heart! xoxoxoxxoxox

Fran said...

Catching up and wanted to say "Thank You" for your encouraging words...you always know just the right thing to say at the right time and I love you! Never doubt the amazing affect you have on your friends lives.

You rock!