Do you ever receive word-hugs? That’s what I call kind words that others share with you about your gifts, or about something you do well, or thanking you for something you did.
I tuck these word-hugs away into files and read them on days when my heart is weary or I’m feeling stuck or overwhelmed. And while hearing an encouraging word is always, well, encouraging, there are moments when such words have an impact that is soul deep.
Remind Me, Again
Recently, I was reorganizing my office/art studio space and came across such a word-hug. It came from a public speaking and leadership professor I taught under for two years during college.
I was in my first semester teaching in my own classroom (have you ever been a new teacher?), and I don’t even remember what happened, but I was apparently feeling frustrated with something or other, because I sent him an email simply asking, “Remind me again why I teach… because I really need to hear it right about now.”
“Cause you are amazing at it…
Cause God has gifted you…
Cause students need your love…
Cause on the right days it really does inspire you to help others…
Cause equipping others is in your blood…
Cause you are good at it…
Cause it is a strength of yours…
Cause you have the ability to make sense of the complex…
How about that?”
And those words have continued to inspired me to keep teaching, even on the hard days.
It probably took him just a few minutes to write those words back to me, but obviously, they meant a lot, because I still have them decades later.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”Mother Teresa
Simple, Yet Powerful Words
This same professor, when I graduated, gave me a copy of The CCL Handbook of Coaching: A Guide for the Leader Coach. I had taken leadership classes from him, in addition to teaching under him, and had completed my life coaching certification while I was in college, so the book was a great fit to bring the two topics together.
Inside the front cover of the book was a hand-written inscription: “May this book help you do what you do best… better… Loving others… Serving others… Leading others…”
Such a simple inscription, and yet, in those few words, he (1) called out my gifts and (2) showed me he believed in me.
And sometimes, when you’re young and getting started–or even if you’re a couple of decades into it–such words can help you stay devoted and faithful to what God has called you to do.
As I have prayed and thought about what Love Does That looks like, I’ve considered these word-hugs, in addition to others I have received. And I’ve seen how my training and experiences in public speaking, teaching, coaching, writing, and leadership can all fit together with the purpose of encouraging others–and equipping them to encourage others.
These word-hugs, though spoken throughout the years, are still speaking to me today.
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”Ephesians 4:29
What’s Your Story?
What words have been spoken over you? Who has breathed life into your soul by sharing words of encouragement? Do you have a file like mine, filled with word-hugs or cards you have received? Can you pull it out and re-read some notes?
Where else have you seen or experienced encouragement in your own life?