Salty tears ran down my cheeks and a huge grin spread across my face.
The smell of savory barbeque floated on the warm spring air.
A pedestrian passing by probably thought I was crazy--a crying, smiling girl with phone pressed tight against her ear.
But I couldn't help it. Waiting on the Firestone Grill patio for my tri-tip salad and my sister, I listened to a voicemail--not just a a voicemail--a message containing the most encouraging words my heart had ever heard.
Earlier that week I had the privilege of sharing what God was doing in my life with a group of women at my church. Several friends told me after that I did a wonderful job--words I appreciated hearing.
Now, another sweet friend had called to tell me the same. But more than acknowledging what I did, she affirmed who I was. Her voice reached through the recorded words and touched a deep place in my heart.
She was lavish with her praise. She used so many adjectives I started to giggle. Not for the sake of boosting my ego, but for the gift of seeing my soul.
Yes, one of the greatest gifts is being seen. Truly seen. And this dear friend gave this treasure abundantely.
Her words spoke truth in my life in a way that validated the very best parts of how God created me and spurred me on to live more fully out of the gifting he's given. Listening to her message made me feel loved. motivated. empowered.
Then my sister came back with a black tray of deliciousness, so I moved on to enjoying my meal.
But this gift of encouragement continued to stir my soul long after that first stream of awe and gratitude tears were wiped away. I feel silly admitting it, but I saved that voicemail and have listened to it many times over the last eight months.
That's the power of encouragement. Words that give life.
A couple months had now passed since I followed the automated prompt, pressed 9 for saved messages. Until this week. On Tuesday, for no real reason, I listened again to the most encouraging words I had ever heard. (Oh, I laugh, because God always knows the reason.) On Wednesday I was asked to share my story at a large event.
My heart pounded in excitement and fear.
Self-doubt threatened to choke my answer.
But that's the power of encouragement: it. gives. courage.
I said yes.
* * *
I'm writing with Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday community. We write for the sake of story, beauty, creativity, truth. The task is to write for 5 minutes flat on a single word prompt. In truth, I usually spend way more than five minutes. But whether it's 5 or 45, this exercise get's me writing, telling my story---God's story. And that's the best outcome for me.