I remember the first time I went on a missions trip, our team stayed with the kids in the garbage slums of Cairo Egypt. We left thinking we have so much to give to these kids, gifts, encouragement, time, service and energy. That we were going to make a huge impact on these children's lives. The first day we spent with the children I remember thinking "these kids don't have a dime to their name and yet they are changing my heart and giving me more than I could ever give them". They were encouraging me unconditionally. I was reminded of that these past few days of encouragement, I shouldn't be doing this to see a positive reaction out of someone, I should be encouraging unconditionally regardless of how they react.
Today en route to my sister in laws house we stopped by the Ashburn fire station to deliver the left over cupcakes from Judah's Star Wars themed birthday party yesterday. We have taken Judah to the Fairfax fire station several times, they have always been super nice to Judah and even take the time to show him around and talk to him . They are his heroes. Every night Judah asks us to read him a book about firetrucks and firemen. So when we arrived I expected the firemen to be just as friendly as the Fairfax guys and that we may just be able to get a picture with one of them or at least have them show Judah the firetrucks. It is his birthday weekend and we were giving away birthday cupcakes.
We rang the doorbell and one of the firemen came out. I explained our month of encouragement, my sons birthday and these awesome looking Star Wars cupcakes. He took the cupcakes from me and said "I guess someone would eat them" and then slammed the door in our face. Judah started to cry. I wanted to cry, it was my sons birthday weekend and we handed over some awesome looking cupcakes to some of my sons heroes. A voice inside my heart said to me "Jess are you encouraging unconditionally".
Yesterdays day of encouragement was to hug some cousins, which Judah did and he had a great time celebrating his birthday with them. Fridays encouragement was to purchase a Starbucks drink for the person in line behind us. We went to Starbucks and stood by the door waiting for the next person to arrive to purchase a drink. A college student walks in and stands in line, I ask her if she is going to purchase a drink, she said that she was. I explained our month of encouragement to her and had Judah hand her a free Starbucks drink coupon. She barely said a word to us and left the line to go to a table to speak to her friends. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I told my husband "that was weird, its not what I expected" and Scott said "maybe she was overly excited" and I said "to not say thank you to a cute toddler who is giving her a free drink?". Again my heart was asking me "Jess are you encouraging unconditionally?"
Thursday I post it bombed my husbands bathroom mirror so he could see it when he took Judah to brush his teeth at night. Scott was so exhausted he wasn't able to read all the notes and didn't tell me what he thought about it till the next day. It wasn't what I expected but its four days later and my husband loves the notes so much he hasn't taken them down from his mirror just yet.
When we first started this I was so excited to see the faces of the people that we were going to encourage this month. Now that we are halfway in I think I am being taught that every one doesn't react the way we expect them to react, that they might have other things going on in their life and they may not know how to process someone doing something nice to them. Or something that may look encouraging to me (Star Wars cupcakes) may not be encouraging to someone else. I just have to encourage unconditionally and teach my son how to encourage even when it doesn't feel good and when you don't get the reaction you want.