“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Sometimes the simplest of words can encourage a person, offer a measure of hope, or just let someone know that you are on their side. My friend, Pat, was a master of well-placed words. The minute I saw her handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox I knew I would be blessed by her message.
Two days after hosting a neighborhood tea I got this sweet message. “Dear Nancy, Here it is Saturday evening and I feel like I experienced a magical trip to London today at your house! What a delight to be your guest at a genuine high tea! Queen Elizabeth would have felt right at home. Thank you, Nancy. Fondly, Pat.” At the bottom of the note was a little stamped red heart. The stamped heart was as much a part of her signature as her name.
I received many notes from Pat in our 37 years of being neighbors: congratulatory notes, a note of encouragement, ones to remind me of her prayers, or a simple birthday greeting! It mattered not whether I sent her a card on her birthday – come mid-June there was always one in my box. To be honest, I don’t even know how she found out the date of my birth, but she never missed it. Even three weeks before she died she sent me an email with her usual encouraging birthday greetings.
I wasn’t the only one to receive Pat’s notes. She probably wrote thousands in her lifetime. At her funeral this summer the question was posed how many in the church had received a note from Pat at some point in time. Every hand went up! One might say it was Pat’s mission in life to make people feel good. And she did it well.
Her daughter told me that Pat even made it a point to encourage hotel maids and wait staff when she was on business trips with her husband. She would get to know the maids who serviced her room and leave them little notes and a tip each day she was there. At the end of the week she’d leave some monetary encouragement for the wait staff along with one of her notes. Though I’m sure the staff always appreciated the cash my guess is that her words were the real gift. Pat had a way of making everyone she met feel valued and loved.
Another daughter told me a story about Pat’s notes, which epitomizes her generosity and caring spirit. In the last few weeks of her life it was necessary to transport her by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Her daughter met her at the hospital as Pat awaited surgery. The first thing Pat said to her daughter was, “I’ll have to write a note to the ambulance driver.” Always giving!
Sending notes may not seem like the making of a successful life and isn’t even close to all the things Pat actually did. In fact, when I read her obituary I thought to myself, “I’m going to have to up my game if I expect my obituary to read half this well.” If I could sum her life up I’d say Pat gave of herself consistently, abundantly and with great purpose. Whether she was sending you a note, greeting you at the grocery store, or having tea with you at her kitchen table her words were always words of encouragement. She cared well for her family, her friends, and even for people she didn’t know. I was blessed to be the recipient of her kindness.
In Pat’s memory, I plan on sending a few encouraging notecards of my own. It only takes a few minutes and I know from personal experience it can make a world of difference.
How about you? Who can you encourage today? There is power in your words!