A few weeks ago I found myself in a particularly busy season in my life. Things were busy at work, and things were busy in my free time. Predictably, I started to feel a little discouraged. The combination of everything I had going on was taking a toll. So I carved out some time for deeper rest. I spent some time praying for strength. I spent some time sleeping. And I spend some time with my encouragement file.
A long time ago, a wise mentor encouraged me to start an encouragement file and to intentionally file away notes of encouragement and thank-yous. I initially thought the idea wouldn’t ever mean much to me, thinking I’d always had a good memory and was just saving things I’d remember regardless. But out of respect for my mentor, I started a file and began saving meaningful words of encouragement. There are many things in my encouragement file that I’d have long forgotten if I hadn’t saved them.
Flash forward 15 years, and I cannot fully express how precious some of these memories are to me today. I open my file and read encouragement from summers working at camp, encouragement from my first job out of college, and notes from teachers and professors. I have literally saved hundreds of inspiring bits from several different seasons of my life. God has often used this file to remind me of the wonderful people and opportunities He’s brought into my life. Remembering back often brings me to tears, and it’s those tears that work to melt away these moments of discouragement.
If you are prone to discouragement (and even if you aren’t), I would encourage you to start an encouragement file of your own. Also, be diligent to encourage the people in your life. Encouragement is contagious. Those who give the most encouragement often receive the most encouragement.
These days, I meticulously save emails, birthday cards, thank you notes and encouraging emails. Whatever difficulties come into my life, I am often strengthened remembering how God has carried me through difficulties in the past and eventually brought me many moments of sweet encouragement. My friends, I encourage you to save encouraging reminders and return to them often with tears and gratitude.