“Every morning lean thine arms awhile upon the windowsill of Heaven and gaze upon the Lord. Then, with that vision in thy heart, turn strong to meet the day.” Ah, yes. A gentle reminder on this breezy, sunny, exquisitely cool summer morning that it all begins with looking upward and outward, Dawn. I can so easily forget something so simple and pure. As I was reflecting on this I thought to myself, Who would’ve thought that nearly twenty years after receiving this tiny desk top Words of Encouragement Calendar from a former boyfriend/fiancee (not my husband and darling Man of the Blog needless to say), who by all accounts was neither a man of words or encouragement, I’d be glancing at this quote and many others on a daily basis? What a lovely gift from him, though ultimately a parting gift. Then it hit me, the former boyfriend didn’t give me the calendar – I’d given it to him and he’d returned it along with a box full of just about everything else I’d ever given him in our 3+ year relationship when I broke off our engagement! Ha! Ha! So it seems that in a roundabout way he ended up giving me words of encouragement…from me. One of life’s little ironies.
Words of encouragement. We all need them. I find joy in sharing words of encouragement with others as well, often more than hearing them myself. Looking for that one thing that someone feels is special about themselves and highlighting it or perhaps even calling attention to a trait in someone that they, or perhaps no one else, has ever noticed. Often that can be a challenge, to say the least, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to dig deep to find those words and share them truthfully with someone I may have initially deemed unworthy of my time or attention. And again, one of life’s little ironies, these are likely just the sort of people I should single out for those precious words of encouragement.
I am also reminded in the quote that opens this post that looking upward (and thus not at one’s self in attempts at self-actualization, realization, improvement), whatever you want to call it, is it’s own reward. And that when I’m seeking God’s purpose in my life, rather than searching for it it in my own genuine, yet misguided manner, my own insecurities, foibles, and anxieties (and I admittedly have the anxiety gene times 10 – I know you’re thinking, “Times 10! times 1000!, non-Mom) seem far less daunting. And though words of encouragement may not always come, or come when I feel I most need them, they ultimately must come from within myself. And the only way I’ve found so far to try and sustain that (and there are ups and downs; I clearly don’t always do this and I “forget” to do this daily) is by looking up to God. That’s the goal, albeit a lofty one, it’s good to set the bar high. In order to feel secure within I must first look up.
Incidentally, in this brief moment of clarity as I’m working on looking upward rather than inward in my bumbling quest to feel strong both inside and out, a lovely and unexpected thing happened. I went for a walk with my neighbor. She and I moved into our neighborhood within a few days of one another just over 7 years ago. Our backyards overlook one anothers and we began our friendship by talking over the fence and at the insistence of her eldest son, who was probably about my son’s age now, 4. He won my heart with his articulate manner, bubbling energy and amazingly earnest, cherubic baby face. I marveled at what a joyful, kind soul my neighbor was and is and we began our Tuesday night walks and blossoming friendship which have continued through the births of two more children (my son and her newborn son), my postpartum depression, and the beginnings of preschool and elementary school respectively for our sons.
Anyway, at the start of our walk yesterday evening (while my son and his Grandma were at library story time together), I was sharing with her the separation anxiety my son has been experiencing this past month as well as how great it felt to just be, the two of us walking, having adult conversation, without the whir of our combined 4 boys in our orbit. She was feeling the same about being out of the house, her husband home with her newborn son. I can’t quite recall what I said exactly, but quite unexpectedly and openly she looked at me and said, “Dawn, you’re such a good Mom.” I stopped walking, looked right at her and exclaimed without a second thought, “God love you for saying that!” (not something I’m generally known to say by the way, it sort of just popped out) and hugged her tightly. And it hit me right in the heart, right at the moment when I most needed it (and I knew I needed it); she spoke those 5 words, “you’re such a good Mom” that I longed to hear from someone other than myself in the midst of a stressful time. And quite frankly at a time when I certainly wasn’t feeling like the world’s greatest mom, I was mainly just feeling a bit weary and glad to have an hour to myself with my friend, there she was with words of encouragement.
I took my friend’s kind words to heart and later that evening I looked up and quietly said, “thank you” because I knew that God knew that I needed to hear them. When I least expected it I was given the most precious words of encouragement from a fellow Mom, herself weary from caring for a newborn and having had many of the struggles with her now elementary age boys that I’m now facing with my preschooler, yet taking the time to not only acknowledge me, but in the words of my paternal Granddad, to lift me up in my time of need. Here I am. I may be a bit weary in the moment, anxiety prone times 10…make that 1000, and all too comfortable with looking inward rather than looking upward to God and outward to others AND “I’m a good Mom.” I don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly at peace with myself and others. One of life’s little ironies.