Did you know that there’s a national encouragement day every year on September 12? Did you miss it? Well, I think it should be a year-round event! I am blessed to have friends who encourage me on many levels but I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who was better at encouragement than Jacquie Sexton. I was the recipient on many occasions. She was a sweetheart and I sure do miss that sweet lady. She told me this story many years ago and it’s a wonderful reminder of how we sometimes touch the lives of other people without having any idea of how important those moments might be. Follow her example. Adopt the habit of encouragement and watch lives blossom.
You Look Like a Princess
The stylishly dressed young woman approached the older couple sitting at a table in the restaurant. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”
Jacquie Sexton smiled sweetly. In her role as pastor’s wife, she had met thousands of people. “Honey, I can’t imagine not remembering such a beautiful young woman, but I’m sorry, I can’t place you. Please, sit down and join us.”
“I didn’t expect you to recognize me. I look far different than I did when you knew me.” Tears misted her eyes. “Do you remember taking a dirty, unkempt little girl home with you one Sunday many years ago? I’m that girl. You would have known me as Mandy.”
The memory clicked into place in Mrs. Sexton’s mind in vivid detail. She had noticed the child and her mother the first Sunday they visited the little white church where her husband was pastor. Years of hopelessness and hard times had etched themselves into the mother’s features. Mandy’s little face was unwashed, her clothing dirty, and her hair tangled and limp.
Mrs. Sexton welcomed them with her trademark warmth. Then she said, “My daughter is a few years older than your little girl. They could play together if you’ll let her go home with us this afternoon. I’ll bring her back to church tonight.”
The Sextons treated Mandy like an honored guest, seating her at their dining-room table, filling her plate with delicious, home-cooked food.
After the girls had played, Mrs. Sexton said, “Honey, would you like to take a bubble bath?” Making it fun, she plopped some bubbles on Mandy’s nose then washed the dirt from her face. She lathered her hair with sweet-smelling shampoo and kindness, combing gently through the tangles.
Then she dried and curled Mandy’s hair. “While you girls were playing, I hemmed one of my daughter’s slips and I found one of her dresses that might be the right size. Would you like to try it on? If the dress fits, you can wear it to church tonight and then you can keep it.”
With a little alteration, the dress fit perfectly. “Mandy, would you like to see what you look like? There’s a mirror over there. Honey, you look like a princess!”
Mandy looked at the image in the mirror. The child who looked back at her was one she’d never seen before. “Is that really me? I do look like a princess.”
That night when the Sextons took Mandy back to church, her own mother didn’t recognize her.
They lost touch with the mother and daughter not long after that, but Mrs. Sexton had often wondered what had happened to Mandy.
She looked across the table at the polished, perfectly groomed young woman. “You’ve turned out beautiful, honey. And it looks like things are going well for you.”
“That’s why I wanted to speak to you today. I wanted to say thank you. I’m where I am today because of your kindness.” She swiped at the moisture on her cheeks. “Through all the dreary days of my childhood, I never forgot how I felt that day when you told me I looked like a princess. I determined that things would be different when I was grown. And no matter how tough things were at home, I always remembered there was a princess hidden inside me.”
This is copyrighted material from Simple Little Words: What You Say Can Change a Life by Michelle Cox and John Perrodin and is not to be reproduced or shared without written permission from Michelle Cox and John Perrodin.