“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24

We live in a world with increasing lack of personal interaction with others. Sure, we may speak to others via text, on social media or in passing, but we have fewer and fewer opportunities to truly be encouraged by the presence and words of another.

I’ve recently been studying the power of words and have found that words have more power than we sometimes realize. As kids, we learn to quote the common phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While this may be a witty defense, it simply is not true. Words are powerful. They have the ability to inspire someone toward greatness, to spur someone on to take action, or to completely crush us.

We all need the life-giving power of encouraging words in our life. They lift us up when we are feeling discouraged, they keep us going when we want to give up, they touch our hearts and renew our spirits. Without the life-giving words of encouragement and truth regularly pouring into us, doubt and insecurity can sneak in and we forget what is true about us.

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

Proverbs 12:25

One day, when I was about nine years old, I walked into my bedroom to find a small, blue piece of paper (the size of a sticky note) placed on my pillow. I picked it up and read the hand-written words, “You are special to me. Love, Mom. ” I stared at those words on the paper. In that moment, those words meant the world to me, and have ever since. I was in a time in my life when I really needed to be reminded that someone cherished me and loved me. I took the note, carefully folded it, and gently placed it where all my cherished and most treasured items were stored…in my Mickey Mouse metal safe, complete with not one but two combination locks! You know what? I still have that note today!

When my mom wrote that note that day, she probably had no idea the lasting impact those few words would have on me. They are words that I have recalled and could picture in my head many times over my life when I would get discouraged by life’s hard times, or times of doubt. They have spoken to my heart over and over again, reminding me of the truth that I am loved.

Even in our day to day lives we can get discouraged: when a project at work is overwhelming, or you are going on your 6th day without sleep because you have a sick kid at home, or you begin to question your ability as a parent when your teen slams the door once more. It’s in these moments, that we are at risk of listening to the lies of discouragement that creep in and try to keep us down.

Because of this, it is important to be connected to a community of people who will cheer you on and support you. We need to surround ourselves with people who will be a source of encouragement for us–who will speak life and truth into our soul, who will remind us of God’s grace, love and truth when we forget.

“Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, and everyone needs it.”

John Maxwell

This week, consider bringing an encouraging word to the people you encounter. Even the smallest compliment or encouraging word, or a simple smile could mean the world to someone. Those simple words or actions can communicate worth to someone else. They say, “I see you”, “you are not alone”, “you have a place in this world and I’m glad you’re in it”. Your encouragement can have a far bigger impact than you realize. Just like I’m sure my mom, when she wrote down those few words on a small piece of paper one day, didn’t expect me to still have it today. We never know what someone might be needing to hear, but God does. If we listen and are receptive to His Spirit moving in us, He will give us the words to speak to bring the right encouragement to someone in our life.

Remember to encourage yourself as well. Speak God’s truth and grace to your own soul when you are feeling bad about yourself. Choose to not listen to the enemies lies but hold fast to the truth about who you are in Christ. Remember, you are a child of God, made in His image, beautifully and wonderfully made! Speak to yourself like you would a cherished friend, one who is beloved by God.

And don’t forget our ultimate encourager, the one who is our greatest champion and number one fan…our Heavenly Father. Through His Spirit and His word, we can be reminded of His great love for us and that we are His beautiful masterpiece. His Word is filled with love notes to us from our Father who takes great delight in you and loves you unconditionally.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17