“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
“…..Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Oh, how we thrive when we get positive feedback. Someone says, “Good job.” Or she flashes you a smile that lights up her whole face, even making the corners of her eyes crinkle. Or he leans in toward you, nodding his head. Or gives you a thumbs-up or a high-five. We are absolutely fed by receiving this type of encouragement.
Yet another sad part about the COVID-19 pandemic is that we have been cut off from many “normal” paths to positive feedback. When we are together in person, it’s often with the lower parts of our faces covered with masks; we miss seeing mouths that smile. When we see each other on Zoom or FaceTime, both audio and video can be garbled or interrupted by static.
One response has been to retrieve other, more traditional ways of providing feedback and encouragement. Some folks began making many more telephone calls nowadays. Instead of multitasking during those conversations, they stop what they are doing, block out other distractions, and become fully focused on the person at the other end of the line, to the point of even visualizing that person sitting in a nearby chair.
Others started sending cards with little notes. Strange as this might seem, sending written notes through the mail might actually be one of the more intimate forms of communication. As you prepare to write, you think of the recipient. You select the card with that person in mind. You choose your words more intentionally than during a verbal conversation. As your card goes through the postal system, you think about that person, wondering if the card has arrived yet. Then the person goes to the mailbox and, lo, there is a piece of real mail, just for me! It might be somewhat expected (like a birthday card) or it might be a total surprise. The card is read, and perhaps pinned to a bulletin board, set on a coffee table, or affixed to the refrigerator with a magnet. It can be picked up and read again and again for months, even years. What a gift!
Lord, bring to my mind the names of specific individuals. Allow me to bless them, to brighten their days, by calling them on the telephone or by sending them cards or notes. In a world where so much is tearing people down, let me be one who builds up those you love. Amen.