A few weeks ago we received a brief handwritten note from a stranger. The writer explained that she had been in a minor accident with my son. (His fault.) She was not writing to complain, however, but to compliment us on his behavior during the incident.
My first reaction after reading the note was the heartwarming mixture of gratitude and pride any mother would feel when receiving compliments on her offspring.
But that happy glow soon turned to amazement. A perfect stranger actually took the time to write a note to us. In a society of tweets and Instagram, where we grow impatient when a website takes more than two seconds to load, this lady took the time to write a note of encouragement to perfect strangers.
Of her own accord.
When she would gain nothing by it.
For the sole purpose of communicating kind words.
Wow. What a lady!
After the amazement wore off, I began to feel challenged.
Is this not the sort of thing we should all be doing? Especially as Christians? Especially as writers?
The world is full of negative messages—complaints, rants, protests, insults, verbal attacks. On the airwaves, in social media, at the playground, in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.
Most of us are only too aware of our shortcomings, and the shortcomings of our friends and family. So aware that we can sometimes miss the positive.
Sometimes we need to hear that their children have actually grown up to be the kind of men and women we had hoped they would become. Sometimes we need to hear we do have talent for our job, or that our spouse is respected by others because of their character or generosity. We all need more positive voices in our lives.
Our society may be eager to speak up against injustice, unfairness, or abuse. But how often do we speak up about the good stuff?
How often do we take the time to compliment young parents in a restaurant whose children are behaving? Or send a note to a teacher thanking them for the effort they expend in their classroom?
How many of us would dare consider sending a note to someone we’ve never met?
Maybe it’s time to be a little more intentional about spreading encouragement, praise, and gratitude. Even to complete strangers.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11