E is for Encouragement

For a long time, I've existed in a bubble with minimal encouragement. The person responsible for this is me. I don't blame anyone else for this state of isolation. I've made certain choices to bring myself to that place. But things have begun to change and it is refreshing beyond anything that I could describe.

Last fall, one of the pastors at my church caught me in the lobby and told me, "There is a place for you here." Since then, I have become involved with his team and ministry.

In February, a writer I deeply respect and admire was talking to me about this blog. He said that I was one of the few that could truly write. He then surprised me by telling me that when he sees me post something, he pays attention. +2 for confidence.

A few weeks ago, a friend introduced me to his wife and in the process described me as "the Swiss Army knife of the worship team."

Little moments. Realistically, nothing more than passing comments with little thought to their effect.

There's a funny fact about language. Words have power. We grew up with the adage that sticks and stones can break bones but the other half of the saying is a lie. Words hurt. I know. I grew up with the sting of nasty and spiteful remarks that left deep wounds that have only recently begun to heal. Yet, whatever power words have to tear down and destroy, they also have the strength to lift up, to renew, to breathe hope, and shine light in the darkest places.

The three people I mentioned above? That's what they did. They may have only offered a heartfelt compliment. They might have thought their words were inconsequential. Regardless of their intention, the result was the brightest light in the darkness of my life. They spoke life where I needed it. They encouraged me to breathe a little deeper and walk a little taller.

But encouragement isn't just emotional boost for the encouraged, it's healing for the encourager too. In the process of rediscovering the man I used to be, I've challenged myself to be a ninja encourager. I am finding little ways each day to encourage someone to keep trying, to let someone know that they're valued or important, to drop otherwise inconsequential compliments. I don't know what affect my words will have in their lives, but I can testify to the impact in my life.

Truth is, I'm a flawed individual. My melancholic disposition isn't typically adept at seeing the good in all things. An odd thing happens when someone like me makes efforts to compliment and encourage others. The act forces you to look at the brighter side of life. It makes you see the best in others. You begin to see opportunities for joy. Do it often enough and it becomes habit forming. Second nature.

When you always look on the bright side of life (admit it you're whistling that song), optimism is easier. You feel more comfortable in your own skin. You become more content in all situations. +2 for mental health.

Give it a try. Find someone that you can encourage today. And if you're the type that would prefer to send that encouragement through the mail, a friend of mine has hand-made cards for just that occasion. Check out her site.

For those of you who natural encouragers, congratulations. People like you have been a blessing in my life the past few months. Thank you. This world needs more like you.

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