I was having one of those days. I was starving for encouragement, longing for someone to really see me.
You know those days? Maybe there’s a little bit of self-pity involved. Nonetheless “that feeling” and “those days” can just wilt a soul.
It was a few years ago, and nothing about this day sticks out to me except for the lesson I learned in it. I remember thinking, “Just one person. That’s all it would take. One person to say, ‘I appreciate you’, or ‘good job’ or something.”
As I was thinking this, that subtle yet not-at-all subtle voice the Holy Spirit tends to have just kind of turned things around. I won’t try to “direct quote” the moment, but it was to the tune of the following:
You say “just one person”…do you realize you carry that same ability for other people too? How many people do you think positive things about, yet remain silent? Do not withhold life-giving words, when you are starving for them yourself.
“One of those days” quickly turned into “one of those moments” where you realize just how incredibly self-centered you are.
Here I am, wishing that I had encouragement, but knowing full well that I keep my mouth shut all too often when I see opportunity for encouragement for the people around me. Not that there was any malicious intent in this silence, I suppose I just never considered my words to matter all that much (we’ll call that lie #11,987), so I kept them to myself.
It was in that moment that I realized that I am “just one person” to someone. Why, why, why would I keep quiet when I could breathe life into another soul?
One of “those days” ended up being “that day” where I learned not to wait to receive encouragement before I give it out. That whole “do unto others” thing? Yeah. That applies here.
I think that we tend to have some weird complex about encouragement. Almost like it is some dangerous substance that one can overdose on. “Don’t want them to get a big head”, we tell ourselves while we pat our backs for our insight. Sure, maybe that’s true with flattery…but genuine encouragement? I’m not so sure that’s the case.
Then there’s the attitude I occasionally observe among women (and have, shamefully, participated in) where we essentially think “if I compliment or encourage her, she’s going to think she’s better than me so I am going to hold my tongue because of my own insecurity”. That one’s a bummer.
I do agree that discernment is necessary. I have had some well-meaning people “encourage” me over the years with words that certainly did me no good. My favorite is the “gentle and quiet spirit” line, when “quiet” has been spoken over me thoughtlessly and to my detriment time after time in my life (“quiet” was equal to “I don’t know you that well so this is all I got” in my eyes for a long time. I’ve made my peace with the word.). So do use wisdom and discernment. Don’t “encourage” to massage your own ego.
All that said- do we realize what an incredible gift we carry in the form of our words? Proverbs 18:21 says “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. I think maybe we tend to focus on the negative side of this, always referring to gossip or slander or all the things not to do. But what about the gift we have in our words?
The power of life, people. What a shame that we withhold this on account of pride or insecurity.
So speak life. Don’t passively walk through your days, your interactions. Don’t withhold life from the people around you.
What a “duh” statement, right? I think it’s safe to say we can all use extra encouragement from time to time. And know that when I say “encouragement”, I’m not just talking “I love your hair!” or a disingenuous “good job!” (Not bad things to say in and of themselves of course). I’m talking dictionary.com here. “To inspire with courage, confidence or spirit”…sometimes en-courage-ment is a, “I see that you’re having a hard time and you’re not alone”. Courage is defined as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery”. Who doesn’t need that mindset?
And on second thought, I suppose then sometimes it is “I love your hair!” because new haircuts can be scary.
So I want to be one of those people. That “inspires with courage” the people I encounter, even on the days I’m not feeling so courageous myself.I want to be one of those people, that brings things back around to the truth of the situation- that through the most disheartening and discouraging days, we have brilliant hope and courage in Christ. I want to be someone who adds to the bravery of those around me. So may I be a person that views people “as worth Jesus to the Father”, and breathe life through the words I speak to strangers, to my friends, to my family, to acquaintances, to my husband, to my son.
I hope this serves as encouragement to you today- your words carry weight. And life.