The confidence builders..!
You are the ones who spur me on to put in effort to write my next piece and to try and do a good job putting it together. Without those words of encouragement from those pushers I would have given up this daily column years ago.
Ever so often as I face life’s struggles and depressing situations a letter pops up in my mailbox as if by divine intervention. I read the letter and my spirit lifts and I sing a song of joy. Sometimes it’s from a teenager saying thank you, often from businessmen who are struggling to keep their companies going, and from so many others to whom I can only say, ‘thank you.’
A word of encouragement will quench a spirit parched by affliction as surely as a cup of cool water will refresh a dry and thirsty throat. The need for sincere encouragement is basic among human beings. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., displays the personal effects found on President Abraham Lincoln the night he was shot. They include a small handkerchief embroidered “A. Lincoln,” a pen knife, a spectacle case repaired with cotton string, a Confederate five-dollar bill, and a worn-out newspaper clipping extolling his accomplishments as president. The article begins, “Abe Lincoln is one of the greatest statesmen of all time....”
As I read about this I wondered why one of the most highly regarded leaders of world history carried around such a document? Did he not know his own worth? The answer is found in the fact that Lincoln was not as popular during his lifetime as he became after death. His leadership was under constant fire, he was frequently an object of ridicule in the press, and bitter critics criticized every decision he made.
Abe needed something to remind himself that, though battered by the disappointments of life and corned by those he sought to lead, there were still also others who valued his contribution. That there were still those, perhaps not as vocal, who believed in him; and so the note he carried in his wallet. He, too, needed encouragement. Educator Booker T. Washington observed, “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
I believe these people can be found everywhere. I believe that we can all become “pullers,” lifting one another from dark pits of discouragement to the light of hope. But, and here I must pause and tell all of you, that I also have seen ever so often in the midst of deep despair, a heavenly hand reaching out to me, lifting me out of my despondency and giving me a reason to smile, nay laugh again..!