What Pooping in the Potty Reminded Me About Encouragment

My three-year-old niece called me tonight (with a little help from her Ma). She wanted to tell me some good news. “I went poop in the potty! In the big potty!” she said proudly. “Tell the boys!” Of course, I gave her lots of praise. What is a rather mundane part of our everyday lives was something to celebrate in hers. It was nice to be excited for her, to encourage her to keep up the good work.

Encouragement is a powerful motivator for children. It’s a pretty powerful motivator for adults too. Unfortunately, we don’t always take it as seriously as we should. Yet, in a recent informal Facebook poll, this seemed to be the number one response. We want to be accepted, built up, appreciated, encouraged, particularly by other women.

But we fail to give the very thing to others that we ourselves seem to need the most. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage each other. Hebrews 10:24 reminds us to spur one another on towards good deeds. And Romans 15:2 advises us to build up our neighbors.

Over the last few months, my family and I have experienced this on a large scale. People have reached out in so many ways to help comfort us during our time of grief. I think that most of us are pretty good at ministering to people during times of tragedy.

But, thankfully, life isn’t usually composed of lots of great tragedies. Instead, it’s composed of the mundane, ordinary struggles of day-to-day living. Work stress. Family arguments. Weight gain. Financial issues—typical struggles of adulthood.

And what we need, what we all need, is daily encouragement to keep fighting the good fight, to keep trying, to hang in there, to keep working towards the goal. We also need people to celebrate with us when we reach those milestones, no matter how small. 

This week a friend sent the sweetest letter to me in the mail. Not a bill. Not an advertisement. Not someone trying to sell me something. A real letter! What a joy! (Thank you, Linda!) A while back, a friend brought me flowers at work, for no reason,—just because. (Thank you, Dani!) On days when I seem to be struggling to stay awake, friends sometimes bring me my favorite drink, Diet Mountain Dews. (Thank you, Shannon and Melanie!)

Sending a text, making a call, mailing a card, just being there to cheer each other on when it’s tough and to celebrate together when things are good. It’s about taking the time to listen to each other and to know what’s going on in one another’s lives. That’s what most of us want and need. So, come on ladies, let’s be the kind of women who are willing to step into the day-to-day with each other, to share, to encourage, to do life together.

Tell me a time when someone was a great encouragement to you!