I've been thinking a lot about encouragement lately. About how we all need it. About those who give it freely. And about those who...don't.
I received a card in the mail the other day. Written inside were a few short sentences of encouragement. Nothing lavish or over the top. Just simple sentences letting us know they appreciated how God is using us. And it was one of those moments that hit me me hard. Like crying outside the post office, hard. Because it was just so sweet of them to send it.
And apparently I needed it. That's how encouragement is. We all need it. And we all need to give it.
Maybe it's harsh to say this, but *oh well* I think most people think they are a fountain, when in fact they more often act like a drain. Me included.
Some people definitely have the spiritual gift of encouragement. This lady that sent the card, it's her gift. It is.
For others of us, we need to work at it a little. We need to say the nice thing out loud. I like to just think it. Because thinking it in my head still seems like a nice thing to do. But it needs to come out of my head and go into their heart for it to matter.
Over the past several years I've learned a few things about encouragement. One, is that in ministry & life, you will spend a great deal of time just encouraging people. Over and over and over. Like a cheerleader...only without the pom poms and short skirt. Sometimes it will make a difference. And sometimes it won't. Cheerleaders don't control the outcome of the game. They just cheer their little hearts out regardless.
I wasn't quite prepared for that. I have sort of the exact opposite of a cheerleader personality. In fact, "not a cheerleader" is on my long list of "Things I'm Not: Why Did God Call Me to be the Wife of a Pastor?"
And God, as usual, shows me He's not limited by what I'm not. It's Him in me. And so He prompts, and He prompts and He prompts some more. And I write the email, or the text, or make the phone call. And tell people *out loud* what I'm already thinking in my head. Because I need to hear it as much as they do.
There's a phrase I find myself saying often when encouraging people: "It matters." Whatever they are doing, whatever they are struggling with, whoever they are...it matters. It was only recently that I realized that part of the reason I'm saying it all the time is because in a way, I'm saying it to myself. When I tell them it matters, I'm reminding my own heart that it matters.
Cheer somebody on today. Say the nice thing. Everyone needs some encouragement. Let them know it matters. You can do it. *insert toe touch* (just kidding, I can't even bend over and touch my toes, let alone jump in the air and do it. But you get the idea.)
(all images obtained via pinterest, I have no idea who the copyright belongs to, but it's not me)