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On Thanksgiving Day in 1987 I was barely able to walk into the hospital emergency room. My fever was 105 F. and rising. After an exam and a lung x-ray I was admitted to the hospital. The diagnosis was viral pneumonia, which is usually brought on by stress, and which has a long recovery period. Within the past year or so I had experienced a series of very stressful circumstances, including the death of my father. And, during these stressful events, I also had maintained a full-time job.
While recuperating at home on medical leave I was unable to make significant progress towards recovery; family lived far away and could not help. I was very low and did not know how to move forward.
One afternoon a card arrived in the mail. The card contained a short handwritten note and an enclosed poem of encouragement from Virginia, one of our congregation’s widows. There are no words which can express my profound thanks for her thoughtful, hopeful words, especially the poem she included. She remembered me in my circumstance.
A year or two earlier my husband and I had been a guest in Virginia’s home. She was a delightful and positive woman. She always talked with a smile on her face, so her demeanor would not have indicated the great depths of despair she had known. During our visit she pointed to a painting of her only child, her son, which occupied a prominent place above the fireplace in the living room where we visited. Virginia’s face beamed as she talked about him while she recalled his life, their relationship and her marriage to his father. You see, her son had enlisted in the Navy and served in the Second World War, but he perished when his ship sank after it was torpedoed. Although many years had passed since his death, she recalled the details of the incident with clarity and with great sorrow and tears.
Virginia’s note of encouragement was a real blessing; to me it was a gift which will never be forgotten. Whether she wrote the enclosed poem herself or borrowed it from another author I do not know, but her thoughtful words and poem gave me the courage to persevere on a long road of physical recovery and to help me find a way to overcome discouragement. Her note of encouragement still occupies a special place in my bedside table drawer so I can read it from time to time.
“Encouragement” means to impart courage; to cheer on; to inspire someone who is weary; to help someone grow; to give hope to someone who is faltering; to praise someone downhearted; to lift the spirits of; to give confidence; inspire; console; and, cheer up.
Women are nurturers by nature. We give emotional and physical support to our family, the sick and disabled, friends and our aged parents. We are caregivers. Although letter and note writing is a fading art in this digital age, it is a powerful tool to give encouragement and support to others. In light of the stressful times in which we live, encouragement is especially needed.
Taking the opportunity to encourage others by writing a letter or note of encouragement, in whatever circumstance in which someone may be in is a wonderful way to lift someone’s spirits, give support and express genuine care and concern. You may be the only one who will reach out with sincere heartfelt encouragement and support to help someone physically, emotionally or spiritually heal. Who doesn’t enjoy getting a personal, handwritten note in the mail?
Whether it is with a card, a poem, or a letter, writing a note of encouragement is a vital means of giving physical, emotional and spiritual health which you, a nurturing woman, are best able to provide (Proverbs 12:25, Proverbs 25:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 1 Peter 4:7–11).