I had spent too long in front of the mirror that Sunday morning. After swapping with a friend a bag of clothes we no longer wanted, I had a new-to-me lacy top to wear to church. That Sunday morning also happened to be one of those first indecisive spring days: the morning began with a chill in the air, but my weather app promised it would be balmy by noon. So my new shirt was perfect for the weather. Still, for some reason, I felt self-conscious in it.
Then this beautiful mom I know, in the midst of corralling all three of her kids through our church’s front door, took the time to glance back, say hello, and comment, “I like your new shirt!”
That was all it took. I floated through the church doors, greeted friends, found a seat, and stood when the music began. Completely assured I looked pretty. Completely prepared to stand and worship my Lord, undistracted by worried thoughts of do I really look all right?
It’s amazing the power of words, isn’t it?
Sometimes you never know the blessing you bestow. The simple strength in a tiny compliment can smooth someone’s whole day.
Of course, the reverse is also true. If I neglect to take the time to smile, say, “Hello, how’s your day going?” to the cashier at Aldi, and thank them for their service, I could add to their stressful afternoon, instead of offering the relief of a simple kindness. I don’t want to neglect that opportunity.
Let’s be like Elizabeth.
If anyone had had a stressful afternoon, it was Mary. Gabriel had just appeared to her and told her magnificent news: that she would bear the Christ-child. But Mary knew what that meant: her life as she knew it was essentially over. In a day when marriage and motherhood determined the whole of a woman’s worth, Mary was essentially signing over her future. She could not be sure Joseph would still want to marry her. Even so, she answered, “Let it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always read that line at Christmastime and thought, Oh, to be like Mary. So willing. So servant-hearted.
Recently, though, the keynote speaker at a conference I attended pointed out that “Let it be to me as you have said” doesn’t sound like the most joyful line in Scripture. Obedient? Yes. Willing? Absolutely. Yet, also in that simple sentence are hints of fear, trepidation, even resignation.
Mary was frightened, and rightfully so. So what did she do? She ran to Elizabeth. And Elizabeth spoke life into Mary:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! ... Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!'” (Luke 1:41-42 & 45)
Who is your Elizabeth?
Mary no doubt knew she could count on Elizabeth to help put Mary’s sorrow-blessing into perspective. Perhaps because of past experiences the two cousins had weathered that Scripture doesn’t mention, Perhaps because of Elizabeth’s maturity of years. They were greatly blessed with the babies they would bear, but both faced uncertain futures. Can you relate?
- Has God called you to marriage and you love that man, but he sure does produce a lot of laundry and dishes sometimes?
- Has God called you to motherhood and you love those babies, but then there’s family drama, cancer, or the day-to-day of toy-littered floors and crumb-laden tables…and you’re tired?
- Has God called you to minister to a hurting friend, but your energy wanes when at the end of the day the heartbroken texts seem to say she didn’t even hear your words of hope?
In the hard moments, who is your Elizabeth?
For me, something as seemingly silly as feeling self-conscious in a new shirt meant my Elizabeth was the mom at church. She took time out of ushering her children in the door to compliment me, and my heart’s posture changed from self-conscious to worship-oriented.
Look around you. Identify your Elizabeths. Challenge yourself to thank them.
I emailed my mom-friend yesterday, thanking her for her reassurance that Sunday morning.
Who will you email, text, or thank face-to-face today for being an encouragement to you?
We as women all have the power to speak life and truth into other women, just as Elizabeth did.
For the cashier at Aldi, hopefully I can be her Elizabeth when I take the time to ask her how her day is going.
Who will you encourage with your words?
Photography: JenniMarie Photography