What would your answer be?

by Kerry

I was asked to speak at a women’s banquet last month and immediately I thought, ‘deeply flattered but ugh, so not a great time for this.’

The banquet was literally one week before Mother’s Day. There was a sting to Mother’s Day this year… We lost our baby last September. I loathe that word lost, and other wording choices for this aren’t much better, but we experienced a truly horrifying loss – as I know many of you have too.

So, the topic on which I was to speak?
Yep, you read it, … Encouragement.

All I could think was [are you kidding me???].


Our sweet baby #5 was due to arrive around March 24th. With barely a month gone by since said due date, the pain of official loss was still way too fresh. And to my displeasure the twinges of *you need to do this anyway* were unavoidable. So I agreed, reluctantly, to speak.

Ironically I needed encouragement more than ever. How would I know what would be encouraging for me to hear if someone else were speaking? Several weeks of reading, researching and brainstorming and I was still coming up short. There are many “lovely” ways to talk about encouraging each other, but lovely wasn’t working for me. And if it didn’t work for me – I wouldn’t be speaking authentically and it wouldn’t work for anyone else. Pages of scribbled notes felt worthless.

What next…
I was left with only one question to ask – What would speak real to me, really?

The oxymoronic answer arrived almost immediately:
“Tell me what you want to hear!”
And that, in a nutshell, was my answer.

Seriously, the emails shot out with puffs of smoke because I was so relieved to have a solution to my dilemma. I couldn’t type fast enough! And just as quickly the replies flooded in. The solution, you ask? Simple…
I asked for my answer. I asked women,
“What is one of the most encouraging things someone could say to you?”

And the answers were… Well, I’ll list them for you in a second. More importantly was what the replies represented. Every reply fell under one of three needs:
1. Recognizing
2. Relating
3. Reaching out
In other words,
1. Someone please recognize how hard I work, how hard I try.
2. Someone please relate to me in what I’m going through.
3. Someone please reach out to me. Extend a hand of friendship my direction.

Here’s what they said:

“You’re worth it.”

To ‘Keep your eyes on the prize… He will never let you down.’

That my best is enough.

“I love you!”

“I’ve been there too.”

“You have the gift of ____________.”

That they recognize how hard I work as a mom and that I am doing a wonderful job at it.

“You can do it!”

“Get out there and show ’em what you’re made of.”

“You’re a hard worker.”

“it is obvious you are doing a great job” This is sometimes in regards to homeschooling, or choice of doctors, or parenting choices, or other parenting or marriage things…but for someone to just say, “I can see the results and I want you to know it” is really important because so many times you feel like your choices are going unnoticed or unappreciated. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, because it matters.

If someone would say… “I really appreciate your encouraging me by (card, meal, telephone call, etc).”

“Would you like to go to the (store, park, mall, etc) with me?”

“You look like you have been losing weight.”

“You’re a good cook!”

“You are beautiful.”

“You show Jesus.”

“You can do anything with God’s help.”

It encourages me when someone says, “Thank you for your hard work and efforts. You are making a difference.”

probably “good job” or maybe “thanks for your help”

You are not alone.

If someone said… I am a good wife and mother and that what I do matters and remember that God notices all the things I do even if no one else does.

God has a plan for it all and he knows what’s best.

“You just made my day.”

To hear someone else says they’re having an ugly day or frumpy day.

“Your (daughter, son) is such a joy to have in class.”

“I’m so happy you’re a part of this.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Thanks for everything you are doing and all your support!”

“This is all part of a bigger (divine) plan. Everything will work out as it is meant to.”

When someone tells me what I am doing in ministry is meaningful and making a difference in their lives, that is what is the best thing for me to hear!

“Your pants are baggy …lookin good!”

A long hug says a lot.

The words when someone prays for you out loud …like you’re being lifted to the very arms of God.

God loves you!

“Let’s go get coffee.”

{We need to notice. We need to connect. We need to extend friendship.}
What would your answer be?