"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
~ Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
I've known for a long time that my number one love language is words of encouragement. It goes beyond the "good job," or "you're awesome" or beautiful or whatever [insert uplifting word here]. No, for me it's the questions about everyday life. It's more than the "how are you?" and more like, "how are the wedding plans going?" (at least in this season). Or even the "how'd your test go?" It's remembering the specifics of what I shared with an individual and then the follow up that comes after. It's knowing that someone is not just hearing what you say, but that they are listening to what you say.
From my fiancé it's the little notes that he leaves hidden in my apartment when he comes over to hang out. My most recent treasure I found in my coffee maker :) He knows me because he's taken the time. Words of encouragement are not his love language, but he goes out of his way to feed mine because he knows the joy it brings to my heart.
In my job it's hearing back from a patient the feedback or encouragement I may have given them in a session and getting to hear how it may have helped. I don't say that to brag about my ability as a counselor, in fact it's not by any ability of my own whatsoever. In those moments there's an immediate "praise God!" For it is by Christ who strengthens me that I'm able to do anything at all (Philippians 4:13).
In the last 24 hours my words of encouragement have come thru my boss who relayed positive feedback I had shared with a patient. Feedback that as she let it sink in she found that her nightmares subsided. Again, nothing I did, but rather a peace I've found in Jesus Christ who strengthens me daily in my ability to serve as a counselor. It came from a co-worker asking me how my medical test that I was extremely anxious about went last week, and from another co-worker who asked about the details of my upcoming wedding.
For me, words of encouragement comes by showing interest and remembering what was shared. I try to use that in my profession, to remember that each person who comes into my office seeking help is a person who just wants to be known. There's something sweet about being known... and others wanting to ask so that they may know you.