- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated being encouraged.
I had the great joy of seeing the book that I edited come out this week — a devotional written by the mom of a friend — and a series of events unfolded that reminded me of the infinite feedback loop that encouragement becomes.
Encouragement as an action — Actions that will give courage to others, warm their hearts, stoke their inner fire.
Encouragement needs to be carefully and precisely used, doesn’t it?
Encourage as if you are holding a mirror up to the person you are encouraging so that they can see their most gentle, loving, self-controlled, peace-making, compassionate, joyful self in the reflection and grow into that image.
“In life you have to tune things out because if you don’t you will lose focus. I’m not sure why I shared this again; but perhaps maybe for that someone today that has allowed the storms of life to deter your course…be encouraged.” — Annie Gay, Tickle: …Laugh Your Way to Healing!
“We made a hundred programs for EEN, the Eastern Educational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we’ve got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care. And this is what – This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying
You’ve made this day a special day
By just your being you
There’s no person in the whole world like you
And I like you, just the way you are
And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger – much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I’m constantly concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I feel is a meaningful expression of care.” — Fred Rogers, Senate subcommittee speech (see video below)
Two things from this week stuck out to me as I made my way —
- Encouragement is active. It’s not “thoughts and prayers” — it’s doing something, often a bit scary, that strengthens someone’s character, helps them carry on. It’s often a vulnerable form of connecting with. There is risk involved.
- Encouragement is neutral, isn’t it? You can do great harm or great good depending on what you choose to encourage.
I have noticed long seasons in my own life where I felt very little encouragement from the outside world. I don’t think that this is uncommon. I kind of lean toward the idea that in these seasons, we are being nudged to develop ways to encourage ourselves. Develop our philosophy of life. Develop our character.
I have also noticed that when we are encouraged, it seems our one job is to pay it forward — find someone out there and encourage them in a way that allows them to see their future self, their better self. (Not who you wish they would be :) )
So — Are you in a season where you need to develop ways to encourage yourself? Or are you in a place where you ought to be looking out for ways to encourage others? Or both :)
Can you move through your week seeking out ways to encourage? Quietly noticing the work someone is doing, catching someone doing good…
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Sometimes, encouragement looks not like “helping” someone else, but allowing yourself to be helped by someone. Perhaps consider ways to allow someone to help you in a way that encourages them, allows them to see themselves as a capable person who can help.