“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”William Arthur Ward
Our pastor quoted this a few weeks ago and I’ve been thinking of it and of writing about it since then. Admittedly I had planned to write this, oh about three weeks ago, but life, once again, got in the way. But that might actually makes the timing on this a bit better because I have had so many people encouraging me in so many areas lately, so many praying for me in various ways, and now I can Praise God that some of my prayers have been answered.
Encouragement is an interesting thing…. It can be so easy to do and yet can be done in such a way that it really isn’t encouragement at all. And the results can be just as William Arthur Ward stated above.
I’m sure we can all think of people who are full of flattery but don’t back that up with support. They can tell us how awesome we are but they never give any feedback to our deeds and actions, they never offer support and critiquing…only positive comments. That only gives us a false sense of security and eventually leads us to wonder what this person actually sees in us and our actions. When something doesn’t work out the way you wanted or your efforts backfire it is very hard not to remember the person who didn’t give you any advice but just gushed at all you were doing. You know, when you are planning something let’s say and you ask some people if your ideas sound good, really looking for suggestions and support and what you get is ‘your ideas are so wonderful, you are such a great person for doing this, everything will go great’ etc. So you go into your activity thinking that it’s going to go off without much of a hitch because that is the feedback you’ve been given. When the event doesn’t turn out as planned and you realize you overextended yourself, planned the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong crowd etc. you realize that you needed more honest advice, more encouragement, more offers of support and help.
And the same can be said for the opposite type of support. You know those types too…the ones who never support you, who don’t believe in you, tell you they don’t know why you do the things you do, that they’d never do it that way or never do it all. That just makes it really hard to be around that person, makes it hard to really like them because you always feel judged.
And ignoring…well that seems to come in all circles too. How many people have the kind of friends who never seem to engage in conversation, never inquire how you are, never offer to help or support you. You co-exist with them but you never interact despite all your efforts to engage them. How often have you asked for general support for something via email or facebook only to have the same people over and over again not bother to respond or reply. Sometimes all you are asking for is a few words of support, encouragement or even just someone to listen to you and yet this seems to be something that is just too much to ask.
Therefore encourage one another, strengthen and build up one another, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
But encouragement…well that is truly a gift you can give someone. It makes me smile when I think of those that have encouraged me right here on this blog. Those that have thanked for sharing my inner most thoughts and my inner most grief. I feel so warm all over when I think of those people who always reach out to me when I need support, who always help when I ask for it. I think of the encouraging words I had when planning the fundraiser (and no, I still don’t have a grand total for it yet). I was in awe of all of the baking that was donated…Brycen made $300 or more on his bake stand. That is encouragement. People telling me that the cause is so very worthwhile, that is encouragement. People driving distances just to come and say hi…or to meet for the first time…that is encouragement. Random people sending us donations or donating to Zack’s bike a thon (which raised almost $1100)…that is encouragement.
And those that have checked in all summer with me about my job status…always asking if I was moving schools….if I got what I was wanting and praying for… some that never seemed to forget that I was praying for this move. That was encouragement. My new friends at church who praised God with me when the news FINALLY came that the job was mine…that is amazing encouragement. Those that rejoiced with me online when I announced my move…that was encouragement.
Without encouragement we can lead pretty sad existences. As Christians we need to encourage others all of the time. We need to love and support those around us because not only is it the right thing to do but because it will come back to us. When we need support, love, encouragement, we will remember those times when we struggled and we will remember those that encouraged us. That is how we learn, by modeling.
Bear one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ and complete what is lacking in your obedience to it.
Galatians 6: 2
But our biggest source of encouragement is those of our faith and most especially our Father in Heaven.
Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be moved Psalm 55: 22
Sometimes it is so hard to cast our burdens, to forget that God is holding us in the palm of his hand and that we can give it all up to Him. We are only human, we make mistakes, we forget. It is likely one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as a Christian…that I must give up my worries and burdens to God.
Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Psalm 37: 7
When Cameron was baptized by our friend Theresa, she used this topic in her sermon. She spoke as a mother and as a friend of how hard it is to cast your burdens onto the Lord and to not fret. She knows first hand how hard that is when it comes to your children….she lived it in one of the same places I did…St. Joe’s.
Casting the whole of your care, all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5: 7
And I know that all of you know that I do too… for obvious reasons in regards to Cameron and Cole but also for reasons in my marriage, my family and our situation at the moment. I am working very hard to give my burdens to God and to not worry about our financial situation and Geoff’s job. I know God will provide for me as long as I believe He will. If I doubt then the chances of my worries being taken away and the outcome I desire happening are pretty small. I need to feel encouraged by the love of Christ and I need to feel encouraged by those who believe in me, who support me and who will be cheering me on as I take the journey of life.
And all of that encouragement…well that is love. That is what love is all about. It’s unconditional and it causes a cyclical affect. So I guess now I am forced to love you… and I praise God for that!