Monday, April 22, 2013

You Go Girl!

I looked up the world “encouragement” on pinterest. Here’s what I found:

            Don’t worry..Everything is going to be AMAZING (whatever that means)

            What’s meant to be will always find a way (doesn’t it usually)

            Be yourself…everyone else is already taken (thanks for the reminder)

I looked on my personal pinterest board and the results were just as lame:

It’s a good day to have a GOOD day. (Because I sometimes choose to throw a bad day in the mix)
            Always be kinder than you feel. (Depends on if I’ve had my coffee)

            A girl without freckles is like a night without stars (this one stays due to 2nd grade bully calling
                me a “stupid freckle face”…yeah…you know who you are)

And the majority of pins on my “words” board had something to do with the importance coffee plays in my daily life.  A LOT. Stop judging.

I’ve been tossing this idea around of how we encourage others around us. And if we do is it truly genuine and authentic or does it lean on the side of just a social grace?

So I posed this question to a panel of profound scholars and intellectuals. (mmmhhhmm)

I wanted to know what hinders us from emboldening those that we live life with…

Here’s what they came up with:
·      We are not vulnerable or transparent enough to let others know we need to be encouraged.
·      We fail to see the good in people so we assume the worst. (i.e. we question motives)
·      Pride

What is sad is that those are all very true aren’t they. We tend to pick and choose whom we lift up if they meet certain criteria.  I have always found it easier to cheer for the underdog. The person who probably has no one to pat them on the back or give them words of affirmation. I’m pulling for all 16 seed teams when March Madness rolls around every year.  I’m thinking the reason I do this is because underdogs seem humble. They need the encouragement. What that really boils down to is pride. And what I’ve learned about pride is that it likes to grow in the soil of insecurity. (let’s visit about that next time..)

God’s word actually has quite a bit to say about encouragement:

            Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as you are doing.
            1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

            And let us consider how we may stir up one another to love and good works, not
            neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all
            the more as you see the Day drawing near.
            Hebrews 24:10 (ESV)

There are several more that point out to strengthen, rejoice and consider our brothers and sisters in Christ.

What is interesting is that none of these verses say to encourage you sister after you’ve done a thorough investigation of their heart.  I couldn’t find a verse that provided a checklist of acceptable criteria that one had to meet in order to be given words of hope.

When are we going to get over ourselves and realize we are sisters in Christ. When we are striving to point our families, community and the world around us to the kingdom the enemy will attack and we have got to have sisters ( & brothers) there to lift us up, shake the dirt off and tell us to get back in there because there is more work to be done. The words in Hebrews 24:10 are a call to action.  We are to consider, to regard the welfare and to encourage others to persevere as Christ followers.  Correct me if I’m wrong but we are on the same team right?!

There is a Jewish saying ,“Eshet Chayil” Woman of Valor. Maybe you’ve heard of it. What..your husband doesn’t wake you up in the morning reciting Proverbs 31 to you?  “Wake up my dear Woman of Valor” can be heard echoing through my home daily. (insert laughter)
I first came across this phrase from Rachel Held Evens:

“The ancient acrostic poem celebrating the virtuous woman was never meant to be a standard women struggle to meet, but rather a blessing that celebrates the accomplishments they’ve already made. As we heard from my friend Ahava, in Jewish culture, many men recite the poem to their wives at the Sabbath meal, and Jewish women often praise one another for accomplishments in homemaking, career, boldness, and justice by declaring ‘eshet chayil!’—woman of valor!”

Did you catch the phrase “ women often praise one another for accomplishments”?
I love the picture of this solidarity of women based on one shared commonality: Christ.

Are you an encourager? What are ways you give sincere encouragement to others?  I want to know!

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