She was tall and thin, had delicate, freckly skin, and curly, strawberry-blonde hair that was perfectly poofy. Her hair and her sense of style were a perfect fit for back then, the year was 1988. You could always spot her red Toyota RX7 parked in the parking lot of Desert Hot Springs Elementary. Her name was Ms. Nelson, she was my 6th grade teacher, and she was cool!
6th grade was a hard year for me. Well, really being 12 is hard for any kid, especially girls. It’s the age where everything changes physically, emotionally, psychologically, and every other “-ly” you can think of. I started to realize that, despite my parents’ best intentions of instilling confidence in me, I really wasn’t the best at everything. I constantly had to compete against the red head with the perfectly coiffed locks everyday, for first chair in flute, AND for the lead in the school play. And contrary to what we were all told in Kindergarten, everyone is not your friend. I struggled with making friends, being myself, and not sucking my thumb during class. Oh, did I forget to mention the part about me sucking my thumb until I was about 13, yeah, that wasn’t helpful either.
Ms. Nelson was a beacon of sweetness and comfort during this trying time called the 6th grade. She probably didn’t think she did anything all that spectacular. She sure was memorable to me though. Recently, I was looking through some old school work of mine. While I was thumbing through the pages, noticing just how bubbly my writing used to be and how many times I doodled Gumby with a surfboard (the only doodle I knew), I came across some familiar little slips of pale, pink paper. These papers were only a little larger than a post-it note and were probably scraps leftover from printing up notes home to parents.
But, on them were lovely, cursive writing with messages such as, “You are doing a great job…Keep your head up…Smile…I’m proud of you!” They were always finished off with a signature, teacher-styled happy face. These brought back memories of hard days that were brightened ever so slightly by Ms. Nelson’s little, pink notes. The funny thing is, even though I look back so fondly on these little slips of encouragement, I wonder if Ms. Nelson ever thought much of them. To her, maybe she just noticed a sad, young girl, grabbed a scrap of paper, wrote a little encouragement, and thought nothing of it. Quite possibly, she had no idea how much easier those sweet messages made my life as a 6th grader. Evidenced by the fact that I kept all of them, she had a huge impact on me.
WHAT SORT OF IMPACT ARE YOU HAVING TODAY? YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND UP ON A STAGE, SPEAKING TO THOUSANDS, TO BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO SOMEONE.
I learned from my Mom that if someone comes to your mind, God is putting them on your heart, and you should pray for them. Usually when someone comes to my mind, I like to send them a little text that lets them know I am thinking of them and praying for them. I’ve also been on the receiving end of these texts, and I am just so humbled when I hear that someone is praying for me. There is just something special about knowing that someone who may or may not know what you are going through is bringing your name before God and pleading on your behalf. These little prayers are like Ms. Nelson’s little, pink notes filled with kind words of encouragement, an unexpected little blessing in the middle of an unfortunate day. While she may have thought they were insignificant, I still have them tucked away, and she has a special place in my heart.
“Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24).
God has given us a desire to connect with others. We live in a time where our technological connections make it easier than ever before to maintain those ties of friendship! You can send someone a Facebook message, tag them in an encouraging Instagram post, or just send them a text. If you want to take the old-fashioned route (which is my personal favorite), send someone a card. You know, those pieces of paper that you write on with a pen, then send it to their actual house! It’s always nice to find a personal card between the bills and grocery coupons. It really doesn’t matter which method you choose, you have the potential today to inspire, encourage, and spur someone on in their walk with Jesus.