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I started a new job several weeks ago. During my training, co-workers not only provided constructive criticism to help me do my job better, but they also took time to acknowledge what I did well. Those compliments caused me to be excited about my job and kept me from being discouraged.
It got me thinking about other times in my life when encouraging words served a great purpose. When I graduated from college and was unemployed for what felt like forever, I found encouragement looking at appreciative notes I received from editors and staff members over the years.
Sometimes God uses our words of appreciation and encouragement to speak to others in ways we may never know. If you ever have an inkling to encourage someone, act on it.
I remember questioning whether or not God wanted me in journalism after I came back from completing my first internship in Washington, D.C. Shortly after praying about whether it was God's will for me, I received a certificate of appreciation from an organization I'd been writing about weekly for the newspaper and a thank you card from a woman I interviewed for a profile.
Those notes confirmed that I was in God's will. When I've questioned my career path since then, I always remember those notes. If people hadn't taken the time to send them to me, I would have had a harder time pressing onward when discouraged. Even if I might not always feel like it, thank you cards and encouraging notes remind me my work is making a difference and that I am where God wants me.
When I worked for my college newspaper, our editor-in-chief asked us to write an encouraging note to a staff member during our weekly budget meeting. It was always such a blessing and a sweet surprise to find one of those notes when I was having a rough week.
As a writer, I treasure written words. They can last a lifetime as opposed to a spoken compliment that took five seconds to give. Spoken words eventually might become forgotten or misquoted, but I love that I can read an uplifting note over and over again when I need encouragement. Sending people a written note lets them know they are worth the time and effort it takes to find a card, write the note and send it.
One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement, and I love sending people encouraging notes to spread joy. I am one of those people who writes personalized messages inside birthday and Christmas cards. Sometimes I send cards or letters to people for no reason. When I worked as an editor for my college newspaper, I wrote notes to staff members who helped me out during busy times to let them know I appreciated them.
Be a blessing to someone this week by taking the time to write him or her an encouraging note. Send a letter to a friend you haven't talked to in a long time just to let them know you are thinking of them and wishing them well. You never know what kind of difference it will make not only in their day, but in their life.
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--Good post, and a good word, Amy. :)
--Very true! Thoughtful, handwritten letters go a long way in encouraging others. I was the recipient recently on my birthday - the cards and letters brightened my day! One of the items on my summer 2013 bucket list is to send at least one card or letter per week. You're right when you exhorted us to act on a prompting. Often that's the Holy Spirit's nudge and the encouragement sent is timely, needed love that ministers to their soul.
--I work with at-risk teens who have had a rough life growing up, and it isn't when we tell them what they're doing wrong that motivates them to change their path but what they're doing right. Positive affirmation has been missing from most of their families, and you can really see the good it does for them over time.
--Thank you, Amy, for helping solidify some thoughts that started in me recently. I was at a Christian bookstore looking at the various cards, and noticed there was actually one for encouraging someone who is going through work-related stress. It seemed humorously specific, and I couldn't help but think of a friend who could use that very message. So even though we talk in person or on the phone frequently, something in me said I should give him a note using that card. You make perfect sense, that written words of encouragement can be reviewed indefinitely. The idea didn't quite formulate that way in my mind at the time. Actually, after I wrote it out and procrastinated for weeks to send it in the mail, I read your post and that night just dropped it in his car at a mutual friend's house, keeping at least some semblance of clandestinity (yeah, apparently that is a word).
MontanaMoxie, my hope is to jump in that same boat. Around fifty cards/letters a year seems very reasonable. I've always been pretty bad about even writing thank you notes, but change is still possible!
--Let me encourage you that Journalism provides useful skills. One of my employees has an English undergrad and Master's in Journalism. The tricky part is getting past the recruiters, who may not understand the value of writing skills. Once she was on board though, her Journalism background made her a fantastic editor. We have lots of people thinking up more communications-related work for her. Her career path is moving towards project management (necessitating a PM certificate from Caltech). But once people realized what she could do, her skills were in high demand.
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