I watched the sun quietly set, reminding me I’d made it to the end of a somewhat lengthy day. We had been walking around the city for several hours with our five kids in tow as the rain began to fall. The rain caused the temperature to drop so not only were we wet, we were cold and weary.As I pushed the stroller up the last stretch of sidewalk into the hotel, I felt her hand rest placidly on my shoulder.
“I just wanted to tell you that I’m amazed by your family. I’ve been watching your boys and can’t believe how mature they are and how much they love each other. I can even tell how much they respect you and your husband just by the demeanor they take on when you speak.” I stood there silent, trying to form the words, but found myself unable to speak… so she continued on.
“I know sometimes as moms we second guess ourselves and wonder if the decisions we make raising our children are the right ones. So, I want to tell you how impressed I am with your boys and that I think you’re doing a great job. It’s been a true blessing just to watch you and your husband parent your children.”
I could feel my face getting flushed and my heartbeat quickening which meant I knew what was to follow. I tried to take a deep breath and blink away the tears but despite my efforts warm tears filled the rims of my eyes.
You see…what the woman in the hotel couldn’t have known is that the season of parenting we find ourselves in has proven to be quite difficult. Our oldest son is going from a little boy to a young man and the things we’ve learned in the last 12.5 years of parenting are practically irrelevant and more days than not I’m on my knees begging God for grace.It wasn’t the time for me to tell her that just last week my husband and I were fasting and praying on behalf of our boys, begging God to help us be the parents they need because it felt like we were failing at every turn.
There was no way that woman could have known the concern in this mama’s heart but we serve a God that knows every tear we cry (Psalm 56:8) and He knew that in that exact moment I needed to hear those encouraging words.
I’m sure to the woman it was just a kind compliment. She simply gave words to the thoughts running through her mind. But to this mom, it was the Spirit of God calming my soul and reminding me that He is in control.
As I continued up the steps to our hotel room I was astonished by the power of one simple compliment. One encouraging word, spoken from a thoughtful heart literally changed my entire outlook.
In that moment I made a promise to myself. The next time a kind thought lingers in my mind I won’t let it stop there. I will open my mouth and say the words because those words could be what the Spirit of God uses to breathe life into another person.