It happened when I was flying to Houston alone. The older I get, the less brave I feel flying alone.
I have to be on high alert, always listening and keeping completely aware of my surroundings. The airlines change gates and delay flights. And there I sit at a gate, alone and having to find a way to adapt. It is flat out draining.
I didn’t use to, but now I fight anxiety every time I fly alone. (Oh, in case you are a new reader, I am blind. That’s why flying alone is more challenging.)
When I landed in Dallas to change planes, an assistant from the airlines walked me to my gate. There I sat — eating some string cheese I had tucked in my backpack. As I waited, I sipped from my water bottle and prayed for bladder grace. (When you’re blind, you can’t just walk to the ladies room any old time you need to!)
So, I was just sitting and praying and trying to keep my heart from racing and my bladder from leaking, when I heard a man’s voice. (Insert extreme Texas accent here.) “Ma’am, do you need anything to eat, drink, or chew?”
Yes, that is exactly what he asked me! Isn’t that funny?
I looked up to where I heard that wide-open-prairie, cowboy-boot-wearing voice, and told him, “Thanks so much for asking but I am fine at the moment.” I giggled inside and thanked God again for how He is always providing for me — even when I didn’t need it.
Someone from the airline showed up shortly after that and walked me onto my flight. As I sat on the plane and heard people stream by to find their seats, I felt something brush along my shoulder.
It was evidently someone’s hand, and that hand was attached to a tall Texan! I heard it — that same kind voice. The tall Texan said, “Ma’am, I sure admire your nerve and spunk.”
And, with that, he ambled on down the aisle.
My eyes welled up with tears.
With those words, my fatigue began to fade. It started to turn into fortitude. I didn’t feel like I had nerve and spunk — actually, just the opposite. But when that tall Texan saw some courage in me, I found it in myself.
He encouraged me. He pointed out something in me so I could see it in myself. He infused courage into me. That is what it means to encourage a person.
To encourage means to “put in” or “make” brave. It’s as if you open wide a fearful or discouraged soul and pour in a big gulp of courage! You infuse courage into them.
We all need encouragement, don’t we?
And, we can all give encouragement, too. Giving a compliment is not the same as giving courage, though.
I love a good compliment! It gives me that happy buzz if someone tells me she likes my hair or asks where I got my earrings. But, compliments lift us up like sugar does! A quick buzz and then a let down that makes us look for the next fix to feel lifted again.
A compliment is like icing on a cake — it’s sweet, but it doesn’t sustain us. Encouragement is like a high protein superfood meal you get at the local Farmer’s Market! It builds you up and keeps you strong.
When you encourage someone, you acknowledge something God already put within them. You celebrate their strengths and point out their potential. You grant them courage. And you never know when someone needs it most.
You never know when someone you encounter is “traveling alone” through a hard season and they just need to hear that they can do it.
Encouragement reminds us of who we are.
Encouragement reminds us that we have all we need for life and godliness.
Encouragement reminds us that our mistakes don’t define us and our past does not have to be our future.
Encouragement fans the spark of bravery that flickers deep inside each of us.
Maybe you know somebody who needs encouragement today? Or, maybe you need some encouragement yourself…
I know I don’t know you personally — but, I do know you’ve got what you need right inside you. You may not feel like you’ve got what it takes, but, if you’ve got Christ, you’ve got all you need!
If you feel more fear than faith, if anxiety, rather than excitement is what makes your heart pound today, let me be the one to tell you, “I admire your nerve and spunk!”
None of us really “travels alone” in this life. God walks with us every step of the way. And, He prompts the hearts of His children to encourage each other. So, if you need encouragement, may these words grant you courage. And, may each of us find somebody we can speak words of encouragement to today. Your words may make all the difference!
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13 NIV
This post originally appeared on JenniferRothschild.com and was republished with permission.
Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.