Encouragement is. . .

 

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”   (Hebrews 10:24-25-The Message, by Eugene H. Peterson)

 I made a major career change a few years ago by resigning from a job I’d poured my heart and soul into for nearly 10 years. After the general announcement went out among staff and friends, and the flow of cards from my colleagues ceased, I felt the overwhelming silence of ‘WHAT NOW?!’ It was deafening. Few called to see how I was doing with this new change in my life. No one dropped by. Social invitations to work functions stopped arriving–after all, I didn’t work there any more.

I felt sad. Where were all my friends? My colleagues?  A dull ache of loss formed in my heart. I admit,  I wallowed around in a semi-depressed state for quite a while before it dawned on me that I wasn’t getting any ‘encouragements’ from anyone! Then one sweet day, I had lunch with a friend.  We talked about many subjects, but finally she asked, “Linda, how are you doing now that you aren’t working full time, and traveling so much? Tell me–what are you doing these days that is meaningful to you!”

With these simple words,  a gentle touch on my arm,  and a knowing smile–my heart  poured out a fountain of words that expressed my pent-up feelings. She listened. She nodded. She empathized. She laughed. And at the end, she prayed with me. I was encouraged!

What is encouragement?

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says it is “that which allows or promotes the growth of; to foster; to embolden; to inspire with courage; to incite or to instigate.”

Some folks have said encouragement is:

  • a loud hooray for you when you’ve just accomplished something amazing!
  •  a warm hand reaching out to us when we are paralyzed with fear
  • a gentle nudge–to say,  “Come on! You can do it!” (Prodding may not be the easiest way to encourage, but it is very effective.)
  • an understanding smile–how often do we all long for (look for) that smile,  and seldom find it?
  • a proverbial kick in the pants!
  • a soft, kind voice (sometimes it may arrive with a hug and no words at all.)

In searching for notable quotes on encouragement, I ran across some unique and pretty  funny ones! Here’s one my husband likes. You’ll see why after you read it!

“Encouragement is like a PBJ sandwich–the more you spread it around, the better things stick together.”

Encouragement is. . .regularly demonstrating Christ’s love to others through genuine caring.

As a Christian, I believe that encouragement is regularly demonstrating Christ’s love to others through genuine caring–in small (and large) acts that speak love. It is believing in the potential of another–even when there is small reason to–and conveying that belief to them in a way that they can receive it.

Connor & Linda

This is me with our eldest grandson. Praying for, and caring for, our youth is one of the ways we demonstrate encouragement.

Encouragement is . . .

That essence, the sweetest of fragrances, that pervades when two hearts converse, and genuine caring has been expressed in ways that touch the soul of the one in need. Such an expression often results in energizing that one, inspiring him or her to continue on–especially when their life might be rough!

Friendship with Cindy

Cindy, my ‘Writing Buddy’, has encouraged and inspired me to write, and to get my writing out there for others to read. What a blessing to have friends like this!

In Christian terms, it is through encouragement that one remains motivated to continue their journey with Christ;  learning about Him; discovering His will, and yes, in the end, to obey Him, at all cost. (And that cost for some is pretty high!)

Una praying with a younger woman
Una, praying with a younger woman. In Nepal, women are the lowest on the social totem pole. However, many are learning what encouragement really means–and are demonstrating it openly.

We all need encouragement!

We all need encouragement to from time to time to keep on doing what we know must be done, or could be done, even when life stinks; even when  hope fades; even when we have to go it alone. When we don’t get encouragement from anyone–we find ourselves slipping into a sea of ‘blue’–an ocean of depression, deep and lonely. Sometimes it threatens to overcomes us.

IMG_3503

As a Bible teacher in other countries, I have had many opportunities to encourage women around the world! This woman is in Western Nepal. What a joy to encourage others!

Not everyone  is comfortable with passing on ‘encouragement!’

Christians, as a group of people in society, are often the most encouraging people out there! And so it should be! But one thing I’ve discovered, is this:  not everyone  is comfortable with passing on ‘encouragement!’ (Even Christians!)  And the reasons for this are many reasons.

For some, it’s upbringing! They were never taught or never had opportunity to see ‘encouraging’ done well. I get that! One woman told me, ‘I don’t know how to be that nice to other people. Not many people in my life were very nice to me!’

Another shared that it’s difficult for her to boldly encourage another because of the fear of rejection. “Maybe I’m misreading someone’s need and that person might think I’m invading their privacy, or brush me off. If that happened, I’d be so embarrassed!

Perhaps it is difficult because, as a society, we are becoming more and more preoccupied with self-interests. Maybe some of us have even developed social blinders that keep us from seeing the emotional, spiritual or physical needs of those nearest and dearest to us. I’m guilty of this, for sure! My needs sometimes seem  pretty big. My attitude can reflects  “What can I possibly do? After all, my life is a mess, too! I need encouragement too!” 

Don’t be deceived by ‘self-ism.’ Encouragement does have impact!

Whether encouragement is given cautiously,  lovingly, or even lavishly, we all know that it has impact in the life of the one receiving it.  We also know that encouragement is more than just a hug. It is a complex, and sometimes baffling process. And it is different for each one of us. But is does have the power to infuse the receiver with courage, and make a difference in their outlook on life–even if it is only for a brief moment.

As you turn from this post today, pick up your journal and write a few lines. Recall a time in your life when you were genuinely encouraged by someone.  What difference did it make in your attitude?  What difference did it make in how you viewed your particular set of circumstances from that point on?

May God bless you as you join me and my readers to learn more about this topic.

In His amazing Love,

Linda K. Bridges

Sammy & Grandma Linda reading

Linda written other posts on this topic. Please come back and browse her blog site. Some titles of other posts on this topic are “Encouragement is Important Business!” or “The Gift of Encouragement.

Linda is a career missionary and Bible teacher for more than 35 years, having lived on foreign soil in both Austria and Thailand. Through her ministries she has traveled and taught the Bible in more than 20 countries, most recently in Nepal and Ukraine. She is also an author and children’s storybook illustrator and loves painting, writing poetry, and blogging. She is here with Sammy, her grandson.

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3 thoughts on “Encouragement is. . .

  1. I agree. I also believe encouragement isn’t always a gift, but something that gets better with excercises. In a world of negativity there isn’t always much hope, but God helps me see the wonderful encouraging people he has put in my life every day. Sometimes you have to weed out the negatives, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be in your life, it just means it’s our job to switch the roles and help them see the positive! That’s what I’m dealing with in my phase of life now. 🙂

    Thank you for this message, I needed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Katie for your wise comments. Yes you are right– we do often have to ‘mentor’ others in how to see the positives in a given situation. For some people, they have been conditioned to see life through a particular lens. For fun, watch the old movie, Pollyanna! Remember the game her father taught her to play when circumstances or people disappointed her? It was called the “Glad Game”. There is a good lesson in that move that can teach us all a little more about encouragement and making choices to refocus us, helping us to look for something good in every situation. Thanks again for reading my blog.

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on writing4funblog and commented:

    Encouragement is a pretty important topic. Looking back over the posts I’ve written, this one stood out to me that I should ‘repost’ it–It’s been 2 years since it was first published. I hope you like it! Let me know!

    Like

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