Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
People who know me well know the struggle I have with insecurity and self-doubt. It doesn’t seem so but it’s true. I have been blessed with great encouragers in my life who have fanned the flame of vision and cheered me on when it was for me to do a hard thing. Those dear ones are what Joyce Landorf Heatherley calls “balcony people” – those encouragers who stand and cheer us on. We all have occasions to be so in each others’ lives. I love the opportunity myself, to be an encourager, having had it modeled so well for me.
I read this little (70-page) book years ago, but it still comes to mind often when people are kind enough to come alongside and encourage me to be that person for the job, or to do what’s needed whatever it is… It wasn’t because they couldn’t do it but for me to grow into a person of greater capacity. Or, just because I’m the one for the job. Imagine.
Encouragement isn’t just pat-you-on-the-back praise or superficial compliments. Jenn Arman defines it here: “Encouraging someone can mean you’re giving them support or confidence, but is also means that you’re helping to develop something in them. When the Bible talks about encouragement, it usually means that one is calling someone to their side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act in a certain way. People who encourage others say with love what a person needs to hear, when they need to hear it–even if it isn’t what the person wants to hear.”
The greatest encourager in my long life has been Jesus. He was/is the consummate encourager. Even hours before He went to His death, He could have turned the attention of His disciples on Himself. Yet, that would not be the case. He had compassion on his disciples and taught and encouraged them even in those last hours:
[Jesus speaking] “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering; but have courage, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There have been great numbers of encouragers along the way in my life, and I couldn’t begin to mention them all here…you know who you are. Through the photos below, I will mention some. Thank you all. Thank God for you.My life-long friend, Paulette, who stuck by me all these years and who was brave enough to say loving hard things to me when needed. She went to be with the Lord recently, and I miss her.
Kay – my friend and colleague at a time I was a new-in-town cancer nursing specialist. Trying to win the confidence of the staff of a cancer center, I leaned on Kay for counsel and kindness. She taught me a whole new understanding of the phrase, “Get over it!”
Kathy – my student, who would years later take my place at that same cancer center. I learned more from her than she ever did from me. She makes me proud and humbles me with her enduring friendship.Jan – who was my parenting mentor. She relentlessly spoke truth into my life, and I needed it. Our children still know (and now appreciate more) the rules of the house affected by Mrs. Jan.
There are as many encouragers as there are days…but I will stop here…with these. My Mom, my mom-in-law, and my daughter – all have believed in me and leaned into my life. You know what a great thing this is in your own life. These people who want to come close – for their sake and for yours. Struggling with fear as I do, these women have brought an uncommon grace into life for me.
Last, and never least, there’s this guy…I can’t say enough about how his love has altered the course of my life…for the better. “He put stamps in my passport.”…and helped me be a mom. Thank you, Dave.
Whether we care to admit it or not, we all need people who believe in us. Or believe God enough to see in us what He sees and what we can’t see ourselves. How empowering that is!!!
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…Hebrews 12:1-2a