Learning to Be Me: Encourage!

One would think by the age of 50, I would know who I am. However, what I’ve learned during months of self-analysis is that I often times seem to be who others expect me to be. Always trying to be the people-pleaser. Accepted by others. Gaining my worth from the approval of others. I find myself on a new journey of self-discovery….just trying to learn to be me.

So, as I’ve pondered, I’ve decided to save quotes that help identify myself as the person I truly am. I also continue to delve deeper into my thinking in order to better understand who I am…who I was created to be. Today’s post is focused on the part of me I try to use to help others see their worth.

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I shared my personal motto from college in my previous post. This morning, as I was sweating profusely on the elliptical at Planet Fitness, Fox News shared that today was National Encouragement Day. Who knew? Did you? I mean, I never knew encouragement had its own holiday!

Anyway, as I was spending an hour burning calories, I had plenty of time to ponder the power of encouragement. Over the past few months, I’ve received a lot of encouragement. Each comment, note, or message made me smile…spurred me on. With each memory, I uttered a prayer of thanksgiving for the one who took the time to encourage me, whether it was verbally, via FB messenger, Class Dojo, or email.

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God is so good about placing encouragers in my path when they are most needed. Whether it’s the library employee encouraging my exercise posts, my pastor encouraging my ministry to children, a student’s parent expressing appreciation for communication, FB friends cheering me on as I try to exercise more consistently, students spurring me on to create more parodies, a student reminding me to use my hand sanitizer, or my sister & nephew holding me accountable to living healthier….they EACH were an encouragement.

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Then, as I pondered writing a post today, I thought about when I was more mindful of writing encouragement to others. It seems I’ve allowed busyness to sidetrack a personal ministry that I started decades ago. I’ve said I’m going to restart it, but sadly the follow-through has been lacking. Perhaps, a National Day of Encouragement is the perfect time to make a plan to reactivate it in action and not just word? Yes, I try to be an encouragement on Facebook, but I think I’m overdue to make it a more personal ministry again. What about you?

Who have you encouraged lately? Who has encouraged you? As my college motto proclaims, maybe it’s time for you to turn it around. Perhaps, you could take a moment to send a text, email, social media message to that person and let them know that their encouragement made a difference. What do you say? Are you up for the challenge? Perhaps you can use this “national holiday” as the perfect excuse to encourage someone else? It’s not hard; it just takes time. However, it can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes depending on your mode of delivery. You can do it! What do you have to lose?

Don’t get me wrong. It may not be accepted with overwhelming appreciation, but that’s not the point. The goal of encouraging someone isn’t to gain their appreciation, but it sometimes happens. The goals of encouraging someone else are to keep their candle lit, to keep them heading in the right direction, and to fan their flame of hope. Let’s face it…all of us need cheerleaders at times. Be someone’s cheerleader. Why not start today?

So, is there a coworker that seems downcast? Put a card in his/her mailbox. Do you have a relative struggling with something? Spur them on and let them know you believe in them. As an educator, I know the value of a grown student sending a message to let me know that I was a favorite teacher or sharing something they remember about my classroom. Who is that teacher to you? This year especially, teachers need encouragement. What about a pastor at your church? They are walking a tightrope through this pandemic where each choice is judged by those who don’t know them personally. If they open the doors and restart ministries too soon and someone gets Covid and suffers severely, it will be on their conscience. If they open cautiously or not-at-all, they will be judged as having little faith. Let them know they’re appreciated and how God is using them through this trying time.

So what about it? Will you accept the challenge to express a word of encouragement to someone in your life? Maybe even someone who you don’t know well, but you can tell a word of encouragement is needed. You can do this! Become an encourager. It’s a great habit to start. So why not start now!

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