You wouldn’t normally think of words as a gift but words can be very powerful and extremely encouraging when given at the right time and in the right way. Words can be affirming, uplifting, funny and sometimes just honest or a combination of all of these. The main thing is that they come from the heart and are given and received with love. The gift of words can come in many different formats – in books, greetings cards, emails, audio recordings and even text messages. I know of people who make it their life’s work to encourage others and this can be so effortless to give away yet so effective for the person on the receiving end.
Letters and Greetings Cards
Who doesn’t look forward to receiving cards and letters – especially the really “wordy” cards that let you know how much you’re loved and appreciated? I know I do! I still have all the cards that I received during my recovery from breast cancer while going through chemotherapy. And we’re talking about cards that were sent 5 years ago! These simple gifts of words should never be underestimated. They will forever be appreciated and I don’t think I will ever discard them.
In the last year and a half or so I’ve started making my own hand made cards* with a knitted musical motif on the front. (Music is one of my passions, in case you didn’t know and knitting is another.) I really enjoy the process of putting together what I call these “works of heart” and then seeing how happy, appreciated and loved they make people feel. I’ve had people call me after they’ve received a card because they’ve been so overwhelmed by the thought that has gone into it, I’ve been told that they will keep the card forever and I’ve even received a thank you card in return for receiving a card.
Letters aren’t as visual but a hand written letter beats a typed letter hands down any day. There’s something so personal about a letter and it can be read over and over again. One of the elder mothers from my church has built a ministry around writing cards and letters and over the years has written to hundreds of people who are unwell or who are far away etc.
Books and Audiobooks
If you’re able to concentrate long enough to read when you’re not feeling yourself, a book can be a great way to focus on something other than your illness and your present circumstances. Books can be educational, inspiring and entertaining so if you know the recipient well and are aware of their preferences, books can be lovely gifts to receive. Interestingly, the books I received during the time of my illness were not novels – instead they were books that focused on healing and diet specifically for cancer sufferers. I found that I could dip in and out of them and look at recipes on an ad hoc basis, which worked well for me as I wasn’t good with concentration.
Audiobooks are a great alternative if reading for long periods of time is too taxing for you. I can get through a book in a much shorter time than if I’m actually reading it. Or if you’re an e-book reader you may find that with some books you can do both either interchangeably or at the same time. The only thing I personally have to watch out for is falling asleep while I’m listening and missing half a chapter!
Messages sent by SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger and other platforms can be quite encouraging when perhaps you’re in a place where you feel like you’re on your own. Sometimes these come as circulars sent to various groups but they can also be one to one uplifting messages from someone who has you in mind and just wants to let you know that they’re thinking about you. For me, there were – and still are – a few individuals who would send inspirational messages, prayers, scripture passages on a regular basis and I would often find that what they said was just right and came along at just the right time. A few short, perceptive, well-placed words are enough to let someone know that you are walking with them on their journey back to wellness and the immediacy of digital media means that your messages is accessible – at least for as long as the message is stored – with only a few short taps on their device.
Words of Affirmation
I’ve started to keep any words of affirmation that I receive at the suggestion of my sister who keeps all the good words that people have spoken to her over the years. My advice to anyone would be to do the same. Sometimes those words can pick you up if you’re at a particularly low point and just serve as a reminder to yourself of just how awesome you really are. It’s best to keep these in one place just for ease of access as there’s nothing worse than having to search high and low when you’re looking for something. I prefer to keep mine in a digital text format and may even take a snap of something graphic just so I have a record of it. You will probably need a decent amount of storage in order to do this but it’s worthwhile.
Of course, I couldn’t end this piece without giving a shout out to good old fashioned face to face (or phone to phone) conversation. This should probably be approached with some caution as not everyone has the stamina to deal with long conversations when they’re not feeling well so I would tread carefully here. However, if you’re sensitive enough to know when your friend or loved one is beginning to wilt, a short conversation could be just what they need to lift their spirits. And better still, if you have a great sense of humour and can get your friend laughing along – with genuine laughter, not the polite kind – then so much the better for everyone concerned. I would also say that it’s okay if your conversation involves a few tears as well – just as long as your loved one doesn’t end up feeling more depressed than before. Tears can be healing and a welcome release at times and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.
Don’t underestimate the power of words – they can change the way you see things and ultimately change outcomes. Give and receive with freedom.
*Feel free to visit my Etsy store, UpNote and order a work of heart for your loved one. Cards can be custom made to order.