Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Power of Encouragement

Encouragement seems like an abstract concept. Do we really need it? Do people mean it when they say something nice? Is that all encouragement is? Sometimes it's as simple as a baby's smile or stopping in for ten minutes to give a hug and a plate of treats as my grandson and daughter-in-law did a week ago.

Did you know being an encouraging person is actually a spiritual gift?

This particular month's been a challenge in our family. Some of the emotional events like losing my horse, our family cat's lung cancer and imminent loss, a sledding accident and then a car accident with my daughter, and a few other odd stress moments like me having the flu for three weeks and then the rest of the family going through it too. Not to mention the minor irritation of my credit card pulling an erroneous payment from my bank account and screwing up my finances that took about a week to settle.

The difficulties didn't come in threes as they say. It deluged exponentially. By the week of Christmas, I felt shell-shocked. I wouldn't even voice the common phrased, "What else could happen?" I was afraid, really afraid, it would! I was afraid to hear the phone ring or even get up by Dec. 23rd. Who's afraid of Christmas???

I began sharing little bits with friends via email, then facebook, and a few people I actually talked to by phone. I didn't want to start and not be able to stop crying or worrying.

But do you know what happened?

Oh it was wonderful! People began sending me words of encouragement. That encouragement came in emails, facebook notes, and phone calls. I received a few cards too. The thing that was abstract became concrete.

I fed on the encouragement as if it were a feast for my starvation. Words. Just words. They fed my soul and I understood why encouragement is a spiritual gift.

Have you ever been so discouraged that a kind word or supportive friend helped you pull it together?

I tell you, I am so grateful for God's gift of encouragement and the many people He instilled with it this month!

Look around you, see the faces and recognize eyes that need a little light from your words.  Who can you encourage today? You may be giving a gift that holds someone up when they've been beaten down by unusual circumstances.

One other thought, sometimes we have to let people know what's going on. That we need encouragement. It's okay to be honest and not say "fine" when asked. We can't handicap those who care by being dishonest either. God's plan is to give you a future and a hope. By pretending to be stoic, we toss God's gift of comfort and encouragement into the river to be washed away in the flood of stress, grief, and hardship.

It'd be like washing out the bridge in a flood. We're stuck on one side while safety is on the other. Be genuine and accept the gift of encouragement instead of hiding from it and trying to handle it all yourself. That's just not God's plan to care for you.

If you haven't had the chance, I wrote a blog post yesterday about the tragic loss of my horse, Miss Piggy, over on Warning: It's a tough one, but one I hope will touch your heart as Miss Piggy touched mine.


  1. Hey Angie, it was very nice to meet you in Denver. I loved your 'pagent' story. You seemed so self-assured and elegant as you wore your tiara. :)

    Yes, bad things happen to good people. We go through trials and don't understand why we've been chosen. I too, found that it's better to let others know when I'm suffering instead of going it alone. Not only for the support and encouragement I receive back, but because it allows others to realize they aren't alone. It gives them courage to reach out as well.

    Thank you Angie, for reaching out and being gracious enough to receive back.

  2. Hi Anita,

    Thanks for stopping by and saying such nice things! I enjoyed meeting you too. At conference, it all seems so much like a blur. It' s great to connect outside of it too!

    You are so right about the courage aspect. If we see others reaching out, somehow we are able to believe it's an okay thing to do. Excellent observation!

    Thank you,