I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated and encouraged. Whether it’s just the day-to-day stuff, or something more significant, it’s nice to know someone believes in us.

My inner voice has not always been my best friend. It was always this little nagging critic telling me I couldn’t succeed. Or why try if I was only going to fail? I tried to tune it out, but found it hard to fight back against something I couldn’t see.

As a writer, I’ve always found images of the characters in my books so they would be more concrete—easy to picture—thus, easier to write their story. So I used that same idea with my negative inner voice to make it more concrete.

To me, it sounded like a woman, so I gave her a name (Bertha) and I found a matching image of a mean old lady giving me ‘the look.’ (No offense to any Berthas reading this right now. That’s just who she sounded and looked like in my mind’s eye.)

Mean Lady

Bertha loves to put her hands on her hips and whisper things in my ear like, “You need to try harder.” Or “You can’t do that.” Or “You’ll never make it.” Just loud enough to make me stop and doubt my abilities.

As soon as Bertha had a face and a name, she became more real. But also in becoming ‘real’ I had more power to tell her to back off and leave me alone.

Now, you might wonder what all this has to do with a Kleenex box. Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Most days, I tell Bertha to hit the road. But some days, she’s relentless. The ones where I just don’t have the energy to fight back or self-doubt creeps back in.

On one such day a while back, I was having a tough time. Writing wasn’t going well. Life seemed upside down. So, I took a step back for the day and did something more comforting. I grabbed my favorite book, made a cup of tea, and settled in my cozy reading chair. A few moments into reading, I sneezed and needed a tissue.

As I reached out to grab one from the nearby box, I stopped. While it had been sitting in my room for months, I’d never read the outside. I mean, reading a cereal box, yes. A Kleenex box, nope.

Once I saw it, I smiled. Printed all over my Kleenex box were smiley faces and words of encouragement.

Kleenex Box 1
Kleenex Box 2

If you notice, “You’ve Got This!” even has a dashed line around it with instructions to cut out and share. (See images above). And you know what? In that moment, the words on the Kleenex box changed my entire perspective. No matter what Bertha had said, I realized I already had what I needed to be successful. A little external encouragement made the difference.

I don’t think it was just a coincidence I noticed the box. I believe in God’s timing and know He showed to me at the exact time I needed it the most.

It also got me to thinking how a few words—written or spoken can make a difference in someone’s life. Just saying “You’ve got this!” is all it takes. A quick text or email works too. Because every day, people around us are going through something. It might not be life-altering, but it might be enough to derail their day. And just in case they don’t have a Kleenex box around to remind them of how great they are, it’s nice to know we can step up and make their day brighter.

When was the last time you needed an extra encouraging word? If someone called or texted, how did it make you feel? Let me know in the comments.