Pass the oxygen

I Thessalonians 5:11

Encourage one another and build one another up,

just as you are doing.

Have you ever had someone affirm you?  I’m talking about someone coming directly to you in the middle of your day, looking you in the eyes, and saying, “that thing that you do, that you think no one is noticing you doing, you really do that so well that it has a positive impact on my life.”  I hope you have!  It has happened to me a couple of times recently.  It has been as though someone has noticed me lying on the floor gasping for air, and they have run directly over to me, and placed an oxygen mask on me. Their words have filled me will life-giving breath.

I have had the opportunity to pass the oxygen along, too.  I wish I could say it was always intentional.  Sometimes it is, but often I am surprised. I make a comment in casual conversation like, “wow, you handled that so well!” Suddenly the listener’s eyes fill with tears and she says something like, “thank you for saying that.”  What?  What did I say? Why are you crying?  A comment jumps out of my mouth and it fuels the listener.

But recently a few people in my life have taken the time to write to me, pointing out something very specific I did that made an impact on their lives.  One person called me and elaborated on something I said and how it touched her.  What?  You took time out of your life to do that for me?

Maybe these people haven’t noticed that I am mostly hanging out at my house in my pajamas, drinking coffee and tea, meeting other ladies for lunch, and cooking gluten-, soy-, dairy-, and corn-free foods.  Maybe they haven’t noticed that my days are far from remarkable.

But they did take the time to notice some of my words.  Then, they took the time to use some of their own words to breathe life into me.  They didn’t leave me alone at this time when I might be tempted to feel very lonely and unimportant and inconsequential.  They listened to a still small voice that nudged them to encourage me and build me up.

And let me tell you, these small acts are contagious.  They cause me to notice the little things that others are doing and remark on them — the woman I met recently who is caring for her husband who has ALS and is also reaching out to her neighbor and inviting her into her home to study the Bible, the young mother I know who is scheduling time for mommy-daughter days with her eleven-year-old, the friend who, while battling her own health issues, is seeing to the needs of everyone else in her family.  Because I have been oxygenated, I am able to say to these women “you are remarkable; what you are doing is amazing.”   It’s like I can see them take in the breath.  Their cheeks pink up a bit.  They sigh.

Try it.  You’re gonna like it.

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