What a Few Small Words Can Do

March 5, 2012 | 38 comments

She calls my name while I rush up the back steps of the retreat center, with that clipboard clutched to my side.


In truth, I expect a question about our next speaker or a request for someone to refill the paper-towel dispenser.

But, no.  These are her words when I look over my shoulder:

“Jennifer, I’m glad you’re here.”

Her words wrap around me like a quilt, like a hug on my heart. I stand still in the warmth of it.

She’s looking at me now, with smiling eyes and a gorgeous smile, and I tell her that those five words have made my morning.

I feel like I’ve met the Savior on the stairwell; I’ve encountered love in the lobby. And I guess I have. Christ-love ascends the stairs. My heart swells with simple words of acceptance.

I swallow the lump in my throat when she speaks acceptance over me; I know that I’ve missed a hundred opportunities to do the same in the last few days, with my laser-beam focus on the clipboard.

How can it be, that love and hope can be held in a hammock of five small words? Is that all it takes to swell a heart? A package of a few words and an honest smile? Yet, I do hear it. I hear what she’s saying to me:  “You matter simply because you exist.”

I want to live life more deliberately like that — letting people know they are loved simply because they “are,” not because they “do.”  At its most fundamental, this is the way of our Maker–who declares us unreservedly accepted not on account of our portfolios or resumes or clipboards, but on account of His outrageously beautiful decision to love us. Just because.

Since Eden, God has spoken these words over us: “I’m glad you’re here.”

He declared us “very good.”  We are sin-soaked, drowning in self-righteousness, yet God insists that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He knew we’d mess up chronically, yet He did the unthinkable: He sent His Son to die.

On the cross, for the joy set before Him, Christ whispers forgiveness over us. He doesn’t wish us dead; He says — in the most astonishing way possible — “I’m glad you’re here, so glad that I choose to willingly die for you.”

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And here, 2,000-some years later, I stand in a stairwell, while this woman’s words ascend the steps like a love letter.

I choke out a few words, stammering gratitude: “Thank you.”

Her Spirit-enflamed words linger a long while, warming my insides. I carry her words, like a candle. Later, I see a woman leaning alone against a wall. I set the clipboard down, hold her hands, look her in the eye, and I pass on the Christ-lit flame of words: “Friend, I’m so glad you’re here.”

And in the embrace of words, I see how the candle-flame passes: With a few simple words of unreserved acceptance and Christ-infused love.


“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love …  Let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
~ Hebrews 10:24-25


Friend … Yes, you. Have I told you lately: “I am so glad you’re here. I’m so delighted that God made you.”


Writing in community with Michelle and Laura …

by | March 5, 2012 | 38 comments


  1. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    Such a simple truth you tell here, Jennifer–and one I forget all too often. Thank you for the twin reminders:
    That I am loved, and
    That I have power to show His love in the simplest of acts.

    • dukeslee

      That same truth struck me in a big way, Sheila. I don’t think the woman truly understood how much that meant to me. And it wasn’t just the words, but the body language, and the smile, and the way she lingered a while — all of that just to let me know that I matter in this world.

      It may seem insignificant to someone perhaps, but to me, it was no small thing. It was Jesus-love.

  2. Jody Collins

    “We are sin-soaked, drowning in self-righteousness, yet God insists that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He knew we’d mess up chronically, yet He did the unthinkable: He sent His Son to die.”
    I love the way the Holy Spirit shows you things and gets them on ‘paper.’ Beautiful. Spot on.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Jody! Thank you for your encouragement. It can be so hard to find the right words to express my overwhelming gratitude for this God who loves us as we are, but promises never to leave us that way.

  3. Shelly Miller

    Thank you Jennifer. I AM so glad that you are here in my life. A constant gardener cultivating the soil of encouragement and reminding me of His love over me. I will pass that flame on to someone else. Gladly!

    • dukeslee

      You are a flame-passer, Shelly. Thank you for the ways your encourage and spread love with your fine words.

    • dukeslee

      🙂 Back at ya.

      Praying for you to feel better, Lyla.

  4. Nancy Kourmoulis

    So grateful for your encouraging words here. Always lifting the Lord and others. Thanks.

    • dukeslee

      Thanks for being here, Nancy. You shine for Jesus! xxoo

  5. Simply Darlene

    say it forward
    pass it along
    share it with the weak
    and the supposed strong
    for ya never know
    who most needs
    to hear His
    love song


    • dukeslee

      Oh yes, … Darlene.

      “The supposed strong.”


  6. davis

    i think those few small words are better than a whole lot of big ones.

    good verse.

    • dukeslee

      True, that, Nancy. Thanks for being here.

    • dukeslee

      Awww! You make me smilel, Tara! Thank you, friend.

  7. Lyn

    Thanks for that reminder Jennifer. I’ll carry that with me this week and look for who might need those very words!

  8. Nancy

    I hope those words spread like a virus today! And you, yes you–I’m so glad you’re here!

  9. kendal

    carrying this to my campus tomorrow. with a smile!

  10. David Rupert

    There’s somethign about grace that we just cannot get — because it goes so much against our nature. But it is entirely in His nature.

    I’m really coming to embrace my past, because it’s a springboard to an amazing future.

  11. S. Etole

    This brought many tears to my eyes as I read it earlier this morning.

  12. Ann

    “His outrageously beautiful decision to love us. Just because.” Thanks, Jennifer. I so love that conference, since I was never quite sure of the above quote prior to it. And the love of all the workers there??? Followed me to Little Rock today and I wasn’t even at the conference! Loved. So grateful for His great love.

  13. Matthew Kreider

    As we rush about our day, we often act as though words just get in the way. But we must remember: even five words can make a way.

    I have so much gratitude, Jennifer, for all you do. And for all you say, from your heart.

  14. Jo

    Reading this is SO timely for me, as I serve on a committee that plans an annual women’s seminar–which is happening this Saturday! I need the reminder to SLOW–to notice people–to look for opportunities to let others know that they are important to me, no matter how many things are on my mind at that very moment.

  15. Dolly

    I am So glad you are here, Jennifer 🙂 and that I get to be here reading your blog 🙂

  16. Cherie Zack

    Beautiful, Jennifer!! He has been saying the same things to me over the last couple of weeks, only add the word Grace. I love my Saviour. He is so jealous for me!

  17. Sharon O

    Isn’t it amazing how ‘simple’ words of affirmation can build our worth and our feelings up to a different place than before. It just takes a moment… to say a few words, so the challenge is ‘will we do the same’ for someone someday?

  18. Connie@raise your eyes

    Just to stop, truly look at another and give blessing … oh how I need to do this more. Thank you, Jennifer

  19. Ruthie

    Jennifer, thank you for this post! I wonder if the woman had any idea of the affect her words had on you? Sometimes I downplay saying an encouraging word or doing a kind deed because I think it will have little impact. Yet, I may never know the impact of sharing Christ’s love, even in simple ways.

  20. laura

    I’m so grateful for you, friend. How many times have you been the one to give those life-words to me? You bless tremendously. You shine for Him so bright. Thanking God for you today.

  21. Cindy

    Isn’t it amazing how the smallest gesture can mean the most! That’s what God’s Kingdom is all about. Thanks, Jennifer!

  22. Alyssa Santos

    We never know when those words of encouragement will make all the difference, do we? Thanks for saying it today.

  23. Rachele

    I am in tears reading this. 😉
    Thank you for sharing Jennifer!

  24. Shaunie Friday

    This post should be required reading in every church everywhere Jennifer! Can you imagine the impact it would have? I love this and am going to remember to say those words to people in lots of settings! Such easy words to bless a person with! Thank you sweet girl!!

  25. r.ellott

    wonderfully encouraging post…I do believe all individuals just want to know they are seen…they are heard…how simple it is just to stop and take that time to acknowledge that person…I want to carry that candle…light someone’s life…words are so powerful…
    Thanks for sharing this…you have spurred me on…blessings as we carry our candles….

  26. Missy

    I have been really trying to encourage others and let them know that they matter; interesting that you post about this.
    Thank you for the reminder that while I may often think about it, I need to tell them that I am thankful for their presence.

  27. Michelle DeRusha

    Important truth here, Jennifer. And you, my friend? YOU are an amazing encourager.

  28. Sherrey Meyer

    Powerful truth told in this post, and it’s something I desperately need to be mindful of — recognizing people because they “are,” not because they “do.” Thanks so much!



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