Earlier this summer I spent three weeks at my favorite place in the world: a girls’ home in Guatemala. When people ask me why I go, my response is always the same: I go because I want to make sure that these girls, who have come from abusive and heartbreaking pasts, are told how loved and important they are.
I adore the time that I have to talk to each girl about her future; hearing her hopes, dreams, and even fears are about what is to come. I watch girls copy my every move and attempt to speak English, taking in as much of each experience as they can.
But there are also girls who have been told their entire lives that they will not succeed or amount to anything. I will never forget looking into the eyes of a twelve year old girl as I asked her if she new how important she was. She just looked back at me with hopeless eyes and shook her head, absolutely unaware of the worth she possessed.
It sets my heart on fire when I get to tell someone how much he or she matters. Nobody hears those words enough. And yet, I don’t need to travel to Guatemala to find people I could have the exact same conversation with as that little girl. How many people do you know personally that have no idea of their worth? I’m not talking about worth from one’s job or hobby, but their value that stems solely from being a human being?
One night in Guatemala, after dinner, as I was walking back to my room I could hear someone crying around the corner. Before I could even get to her, several other girls were already there offering their shoulders to cry on and words of validation. I just slowly backed away and listened, as I heard the girls work through their brokenness together, sharing their stories and encouraging each other through what feels like an impossible situation.
Now that is the kind of friendship I desire in my life. These girls did not ask to be in each other’s lives, and yet here they are choosing to be vulnerable with one another and heal together. Here they are offering all that they have: their stories and their hearts.
So I challenge you today to think of those in your lives who need encouragement and validation verbally, and give them a call or send them a note. It doesn’t take much to let someone know that they are loved and important, but it certainly plants beautiful roots that are not easily forgotten.
And if it’s you who could use encouragement, I challenge you to be vulnerable with someone and share your story because we often get through our brokenness best when we are together.
About the author: Abby Case studies nutrition at Syracuse University and has recently joined the Circles of Change community. She is passionate about food justice and encouraging everyone to discover a beautiful relationship with food and their body. Abby loves good documentaries, climbing high peaks, and really sharp cheddar cheese.