I turned around to find an older woman at the end of the juice aisle. She was pushing a cart of groceries and hesitated for just a moment as she made eye contact with me, smiling.
"Oh...thank you!" I replied. With no children on hand, I realized that she must have recognized me from my picture. "What is your name?"
The sweet lady stopped altogether, and introduced herself as Sarah, a nurse for the past 50 years, and a reader of the blog since before our kids were born. We chatted for a few minutes about the kids and how they are doing developmentally, before we went our separate ways.
But she said something else during our conversation that I haven't forgotten, even though our encounter was several months ago. She said, "I've seen you here several times before. I told my husband that you must live in the area, but I've never wanted to stop and bother you. But today I decided that I was just going to say something!"
If ever there was a time when I needed to hear her words of encouragement, that was the day.
Recently, I've been having a sort of internal crisis. I've been blogging for more than three years, and freelance writing for almost as long. The beautiful thing about writing, is that for an introvert like myself, it perfectly fits my comfort level. The unfortunate part of writing is that it requires you to put yourself out there. In three years, I've grown used to some of the judgmental comments made about me and my family. It just goes with the territory. And by and large, people really are kind. But recently, there have been some extra things said that have really knocked me down.
So far down that for the last several months, I've daily considered stopping altogether.
- "Whatever made me think that anything I write is worthwhile?"
- "People keep private journals all the time. There is no reason to keep a blog."
- "I've fooled myself into thinking I'm a decent writer."
- "If I shut down my blog, I won't even be missed. The kids won't care about reading this stuff when they are older anyway."
- "At least then, people will like me."
The internal dialogue would play over and over again as I felt myself going through the motions of writing. I don't mind disagreement or healthy debate, but the mean, personal attacks were getting to be too much. At one point, I asked Sean through tears, "Is this worth it? Is writing worth it? I love it so much, but is it worth the stress and the frustration of trying to be real, transparent, and approachable when I know not everyone likes that?"
He said it was worth it. And so that's what I've clung to as I've tried to find my feet again.
But then, out of the blue, between picking up three loaves of bread for that week's sandwiches, and getting excited that I can now buy butter in two pound packages, a lady who I'd never met, stopped to encourage me in the juice aisle.
I can't even imagine what she thought when I turned around. No makeup, hair unbrushed and hastily pulled back into a ponytail, coughing from a recent cold, and dark circles under my eyes. And then, believe it or not, I pounced on this lady I'd never met and hugged her. I hugged her because she took a few minutes to encourage me, an exhausted mom who desperately needed to hear something positive.
Could she have known what she did for me? I doubt it. I doubt she thought as she rolled up to me, "Gee! I better say something because that lady is on the verge of quitting her blog, and holing up with her kids in an effort to avoid everyone." Instead, she just said something because she felt like that was the day.
I've thanked God over and over again for that conversation since then. Friends, you never know when something you say will have a lasting impact on someone. It doesn't even have to take more than a couple of minutes. Take a minute to encourage someone, especially if they don't look like they need it. Odds are, they need it the most.
And for goodness sake, if you see me out and about, stop me and say, "Hi!" I like meeting you all!
Also, I am *so* glad that I brushed my teeth that morning! I almost didn't!