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Ann Farabee: Encouragement matters

While I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, a torrential downpour arrived. After paying $216.92 for groceries, I looked around to see if an employee was going to offer to help load my groceries into the car, but no volunteers came forward. No jacket or umbrella — just the very full shopping cart and me. I ran, pushing my cart across the parking lot and splashing through puddles of water. It resulted in wet shoes, wet feet, and wet clothing. After loading the groceries into the trunk and returning the shopping cart appropriately, I quickly jumped in the car. Totally soaked and not thrilled about the cost of the groceries, I took a deep breath and just sat there for a second, trying to compose myself. My phone alerted me that I had a message, so I took a quick glance and saw an email from a reader of the Salisbury Post. She wanted to let me know that she looks forward to reading my columns each week. I no longer gave thought to my wet clothes and the frustration of the previous ten minutes. My day was made. Encouragement mattered. And … I knew I would soon be writing a column about encouragement.

As a ten year old, I remember attending Vacation Bible School at a neighborhood church. On the last night, they held commencement, where the parents and church members attended to see the conclusion to the VBS week. The church was filled. My assignment was to quote John 14:1-6 from memory in front of the congregation. When I stepped up to the microphone to begin — the words completely left me. Completely. My VBS leader stepped up beside me and whispered them to me two or three words at a time to try to help me get started, but to no avail. She ended up telling me one phrase at a time for the entire six verses. I muddled through. Afterwards, as I walked home with my mother, I felt the tears that I had held back well up in my eyes. I remember her putting her arm around me and saying, “Your voice sounded so good on the microphone.” My day was made. Encouragement mattered. (By the way, I have used MANY microphones since then – thanks to my mother’s encouragement. I have learned to take notes with me, though.)

As a teacher, I interact constantly with students in the classroom setting, and I see it in their faces — the look they have when the encouraging word is spoken, as opposed to the look on their faces when a comment is not encouraging. An encouraging word motivates. An encouraging word inspires. An encouraging word provides confidence. An encouraging word promotes effort. An encouraging word elevates morale and performance. I love how the word ‘encouragement’ has the word ‘courage’ in it! Encouragement fills us with courage! Encouragement matters.

Hebrews 3:13 says to encourage each other daily. ‘Daily’ is pretty specific, isn’t it? 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to comfort each other and build each other up. No matter the age or circumstance, God knew we needed encouragement and told us to give it. So, let’s make it a priority to encourage others along the way.

My favorite encouragement quotes:

• Be an encourager. The world already has enough critics.

• Encouragement is a gift you give that can be priceless, yet costs nothing.

• Encouragement is like a drop of rain in a desert.

Two final thoughts:

1) A little encouragement for you: You are doing great! God didn’t do it all in one day, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to!

2) A little ‘FYI’ from me: This is the second time I have written about a grocery store experience. Yes, my life is exciting.

Ann Farabee has taught in Kannapolis City Schools and Mooresville Schools. Read more at annfarabee.com 

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