The plumber Dewayne recommended that we replace the kitchen faucet and some hardware underneath the sink in order to prevent any further leaks after the dishwasher soaked the carpet and hardwoods. So, while he worked, I ran to the store to purchase a new faucet. Dewayne told me that the new faucet might have a liquid soap dispenser, which was true of the one I selected. After he installed the new faucet, he told me that another customer of his had a similar soap dispenser and that the woman had spent eight years getting on her hands and knees, reaching underneath the sink, unscrewing the soap container, refilling the soap, and then reinstalling it. He pulled the pump out of the top of the sink and informed me that all I had to do was pour the soap into the container from the top and replace the pump. “Thank you for telling me,” I said. I felt grateful because I would’ve been like the woman who filled the soap the hard way. And then I know myself well enough to know that I would’ve gotten tired of doing it that way and simply stopped using the dispenser all together.
I tend to avoid doing things that take too much time or are complicated or burdensome. But I also avoid things that I don’t know how to do in the first place. Instead of taking the plunge and diving into an unknown process, I’ll find a hundred other things to do. The anxiety I feel when I don’t know how to do something can be debilitating. The fear can grow to the point of paralysis. But a tip from someone who has been there or done what I’m worried about can make all the difference in how I proceed.
When I was pregnant with my first child, two of my friends separately told me that if I could stick with nursing for the first ten to fourteen days, which would be difficult, then nursing would become a wonderful experience. I held onto their words during those first two weeks when nursing was painful and hard and sleep was elusive. I think I might’ve quit if my friends hadn’t given me their invaluable advice. Instead, I stuck with it, and their words proved correct.
Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to share a small piece of their experience to help us overcome our hesitance and move forward. The same applies in our faith journeys. In his letter to the church at Rome, apostle Paul wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:11-12).
Being vulnerable with one another, expressing our doubts, admitting to failures, building one another up with words and actions can change the situation for others who may feel they are the only ones who’ve had a particular experience or made an egregious mistake. Just a small gesture, a moment of caring, a little guidance can go a long way toward encouraging another. It’s not a matter of telling people what to do or controlling them but showing them kindness when they need a hand or a bit of support. We can find comfort from the reassurance that none of us are perfect, and that we need not be perfect to enter into relationships with other people and with God.
Let us mutually encourage one another with positive words of advice and small moments of connection. We may never know how our sharing may help someone. But it may make all the difference.