During the summer of 1994, a friend told me she thought I had the spiritual gift of encouragement. She posted a little note by my bed. It said, “You are an encourager.” I remember exactly what it looked like–the handwriting, the color–and how it felt to have someone name something like that about me. My friend saw what I couldn’t see.
That single comment shaped the next 15 years of my life. I wasn’t just an average girl; I was a hope giver, a courage finder, and an inspiration provider. I wasn’t just a nobody. God wanted to use me to point others towards a beautiful future.
It took someone naming it to help me see it.
I had a student who told me that of all my weeks and weeks of teaching, the most memorable thing from my class was a single comment I wrote on one of his many essays.
In the margin of his paper, I wrote: “You sound like a great teacher right here.” He was overwhelmed that I named that in him, and he later wrote about his dreams for graduate school to become a teacher. As my husband and I discussed these turning point comments, he told me he remembered the exact words of a Scout leader who pointed out some unique gifts he saw in my husband. Those were turning point words.
Today, as I guide students through their memoir drafts, I realize that I’m not naming what I see enough. I wonder what I need to name in my children, in my friends, and in my students. I see this in you. Maybe God will use it to shape a life. Maybe those words will be a turning point for someone today.
Journal: Did someone speak “turning point words” to you when you were younger? Can you speak a “turning point word” to someone in your life today?