The Power of Encouragement

Up Springs Hope Blog Post
May 17, 2017
Up Springs Hope Blog Post

I started blogging for a couple reasons. One, its therapeutic for me and cheaper than a therapist. But, more than that, my prayer has been, from the beginning, that God would use my words to offer encouragement, support, and compassion for other people walking through that place of hard. It’s definitely not easy walking through it alone. I speak from a place of raw vulnerability… typing words some days in a puddle of tears. (The staff at Corner Bakery probably thinks I’m a quack.  Either that, or they think I have a desk job I really hate). Anyways… it’s not always easy to put yourself out there for the world to see. I’m sure there’s been times I’ve hurt someone with my words… although never my intention. And, I’m sure there’s those out there that think I share more than I should. Either way, when you open your life up, to let others in… there’s gonna be judgement. But, today, I’m not gonna talk about the judgement. I’m gonna talk about the good.

 

There is a handful of readers out there who have reached out to me after reading my blog. Some who have a situation similar to mine… some who don’t. But, all who have been so encouraging to me. If you are one of those readers who have messaged, texted, or commented how much my words mean to you, I want to say, “Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.” You are the reason I still write. After a recent blog I wrote about marriage, I had several sweet friends send me messages that were so encouraging. Like, the kind of messages you read, that bring so much joy to your heart, and reassure you that what you’re doing means something to someone. That this is serving the greater good.

 

All of this got me really thinking. How often, especially as women… do we not reach out to those that mean so much to us? Sometimes, we are forgetful. We always mean to say those sweet words to someone else, but we don’t actually say them.   Sometimes, its not forgetfulness. Its something else. How often, do we believe the LIE that if someone else is good at something, that it diminishes our own ability to do it? How common is it, to think something positive about someone else, and never tell them how you feel? I can tell you, for me, it happens all the time. ALL OF THE TIME.

 

I struggle with comparing myself to others. I’m not as funny as Lucy, so I don’t tell her how funny she is. I’m not as pretty as Stacey, so I don’t tell her how beautiful she looks… for a stupid fear that it will make me even less attractive. I don’t tell Sally how much mad style she has, because my butt’s too big to fit in the skinny jeans she wears… and I’m insecure and jealous. If y’all are reading this, and this never happens in your heart, then I guess I’m the only  big ‘ole sinner in the room. But, my guess is… it happens to you too. And, this is what. It’s all lies. Lies from the one who wants us to be so self-consumed that we can’t focus on others. Lies that we are never good enough, never pretty enough, never funny enough. Comparison truly is the THIEF of joy, my friends.  When I start to go down this path, destruction occurs. It breeds anger, sadness, and anxiety in my heart. It strips away my gratefulness for the things I have in my life. It robs me of the joy of celebrating with others for all of their strengths, because I’m only focused on my weakness.  And the silly part about all of this is… it’s not even true. Just because your next door neighbor makes an amazing lasagna, doesn’t mean you suck at cooking. Just because an old high school friend always looks adorable, doesn’t mean you look like a trash can. If we spent as much time building up others… loving them and encouraging them… then I think we would all be so much stronger… So much more confident.

 

As you read this and you think about that friend you never tell how you feel… the friend that seems to always have her life together while yours is in shambles… think about how you can tell them how awesome they are.  We all have our strengths. We all have our shortcomings. But, if we would CHOOSE to love each other… instead of judging and comparing,  we could like, rule the world or something… like Beyonce says. So, to kick off this party of CELEBRATING each other… I’m gonna start with a few myself.  

 

Beth, my sister, has three kids. They are like three of my most favorite humans that ever lived. Her third one came by way of a sweet surprise… that Beth cried about the entire first trimester. Meanwhile, I was in year 3 of infertility. I struggled with jealousy of her pregnancy… and frustration that he wasn’t  even planned. Like how in the HECK does that happen?!? We all really like him a lot now, and the second I laid eyes on that little chunk of love, my heart changed. But, y’all, she is such a good mom. She displays a lot of patience when dealing with her children. Like waaaayyy more than I have. I admire that so much. And I don’t know if I’ve ever told her that. So, Beth, God gave you an extra kid, because you’re one of the best moms out there… and two just wasn’t enough for you to raise.  Now, go have another one, and give it to me.

 

My friend, Rebecca, she’s good at a lot of things. We have been really good friends for a really long time. She’s super funny, an amazing singer, and crafter extraordinaire. We have a lot in common.  But, She is good at a lot of stuff I wish I was good at.  I used to stand in front of my mirror with a hair brush, belting out my heart in  song… but guys…shocker… I never made it big. I’m no Whitney Houston. Rebecca will give you goose bumps with those vocal chords. She will also make you laugh a latte.  And, in the midst of her humor, and singing craziness, I felt less than. Not because she made me feel that way, but because I believed the LIES. I was comparing myself to her, and always coming up short. There’s that thief of joy again.  So, Becky Cat… you can serenade me all day and night with your melodious tunes and craft me a big ‘ole fancy wreath for my front door… all while making me laugh until I pee. I love you, sister friend.

 

My friend, Anna.. she’s the kind of friend that’s once in a lifetime. Like, the kind, I know, I don’t deserve… that most don’t ever have. She’s more than a friend, really.  She’s like my BFF  sister friend forever.  After our first failed round of IVF, she gave birth to her son… another unplanned blessing. I tried to fake it and put on a happy face for her sweet surprise. But, I was heart-broken inside. I was in such a place of crud.  Abram was a few days old, and she asked me how I was. I told her how I was feeling, and that I felt bad because I was happy for her, but I was just so sad for my empty womb. She, in the most loving voice, said to me, “Cristen, you’re my best friend. You  can tell me you’re getting a divorce on my wedding day.” I love you, Anna Banana. I’m so grateful God gives us things we don’t deserve all of the time… because you are one of the  most precious gifts in my life. And I can’t wait for you to come home from India so we can eat SUSHI for days and days.

 

One more. There’s a friend of mine, named Kim. We have known each other our entire lives. But, it wasn’t until the last ten years, that God reconnected our lives. There are friends that pray for you. There are friends that listen when you need to vent or need advice. There are friends that bring you dinner after surgery or when you need help. And those friends are awesome. But then, there’s those friends… very few and far between… that live through the seasons of life with you. That hurt when you hurt. That mourn when you mourn. Kim is that kind of friend. I truly believe she wants me to have a baby more than I want one. She is the reason I survived our IVF.  She walked with me… beside me… Every. Single. Day. The power we have, when we stand with others in prayer… not just praying for them… but stand believing WITH them… That’s a God-filled friendship. When I lose faith for our future… when I don’t even feel like I have enough to fill a mustard seed, she carries the faith for me. I joke with her often that she poops rainbows and butterflies… because she’s always so positive. I’m not so much.  Don’t tell her this, but  I really do love her outlook, even though I act like I don’t. She’s always looking for the rainbow. She is always clinging to the hope we have in Jesus. And, Kim… I am so thankful for you. My life is so much better because you’re in it.

See, isn’t this a barrel of monkeys guys?!?  Everyone needs to play this game for days and days.  Pick up the phone and call that friend that means the world to you… whom you have never told. Tell others how you feel, because we all know tomorrow is no guarantee. And, the next time you’re at Target, and the woman in front of you who looks like she belongs on the cover of Style magazine, whose kid is so well-behaved and has a face of a baby gap model… tell her. Tell her how beautiful she is. Tell her how awesome her kid is. Chances are, it will make her day. And, chances also are, it will make yours.

 

choosing to lift each other up, and not compare ourselves to others
choosing to lift each other up, and not compare ourselves to others

 

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