Isn't it amazing what encouragement can do? I was thinking about this during a weekend run when an older gentleman, running as well, approached me coming from the opposite direction. For whatever reason, he gave me two thumbs up as we passed each other on the track. Now, I don't know if this guy is just naturally encouraging or if I looked as if I were about to pass out. Probably the latter, but whatever prompted him to stick those two thumbs up in the air impacted me much greater than I would have expected. You see, I was at the end of my run and I just needed to make it to the next tree (that's how I increase my stamina by using a tree located further down the track than the one I stopped at the day before). But after seeing this encouraging gesture, all of the sudden, I felt like I had just received a second wind and ended up running another 10 trees which was close to a 1/2 mile. Because I know just how done I had been at this point, it made me realize that encouragement is a powerful thing.
It also reminded me of when I was in high school and the awesome youth group I was privileged to be part of. It reminded me of the notes I received as I walked into school on mornings that I really would have rather been anywhere else. They always started with verses from the bible...ones that were meant to encourage and you know what? Those notes were my lifelines on so many occasions. If I have never thanked those special friends, please take this opportunity to consider yourselves God's hands and feet. Because that's what you were to me.
It also makes me pray that much harder for both of my teenage kids and their youth group. Like any mother, I hurt for my kids when they hurt and I want to right all the wrongs for them so they don't ever feel pain. At the same time, knowing God is using these life experiences to refine them into the man and woman He wants them to be. I think, as it is in any youth group, Satan uses the one area of encouragement or more specifically the lack thereof to weaken the spirit more so than is ever realized. I also understand that is so often the case in our personal lives as well. So many times I spend my days worrying about getting things done...tasks accomplished...deadlines met, and I miss so many opportunities to just be encouraging. What a difference just sticking my thumbs up in the air can make...but so many times, my thumbs are just too busy to care.
Encouragement doesn't have to be received in order to be given. What if we all decided that regardless of what was currently going on in our lives...we were going to encourage someone today and the next day and the next? If I could get my focus off of myself and remember that there is a much bigger picture than what I so often let myself become wrapped up in. Then the possibilities of becoming the kind of wife, mother, friend, supervisor I know I need to be seems much easier to attain. To be someone that always makes people who come in contact with you feel better about themselves for having spent a few minutes with you... Now that is a legacy to leave behind. And while getting the work on my desk done is important...it is definitely no legacy!!
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9