Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Power of Encouragement

A couple of Sundays ago, as I sat in church, an old friend walked by and squeezed my shoulder. He said nothing, but proceeded up to the front of the chapel to join the choir who presented a lovely Easter program to our congregation. I hadn’t talked to him in weeks and had missed our conversations of gospel topics and life musings. His was a simple gesture of encouragement that told me I was in his thoughts and prayers and that I was not alone.

How often in the business of writing, or in life for that matter, do we give and receive gestures or kind words of encouragement? How often do we take interest in anybody else’s work but our own? Brief well wishes or donations of our time to get someone over the slump are life preservers that lift our colleagues and friends back on life's ship. Someone once said, “A word of encouragement during failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.”

I believe that. For the last month I’ve struggled: finding time, direction, and balance in many aspects of my existence, including my writing. I've wished for someone to throw me a lifeline a time or two. I know I will eventually work through the lack of productivity and discouragement. I always do. But a pep talk could have buoyed me up as I dangled over the water’s edge.

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter how we toss these circles of hope to those who are drowning. It only matters that we take notice and exercise life-saving, mind-hefting service to lift a sinking soul from the murky waters of defeat. Sometimes it might appear the service is just one more thing to add to our lists. But I know that in the process of lifting another, the soul we help is often our own.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful post, and reminder. It is hard to not get lost in our own problems, enough to notice those around us. But it's true, when we serve others, we are blessed in abundance. I love the quote about "A word of encouragement..." I can totally see how that is true.

Thank you for offering words of encouragement, when I really need it. Now, how can I throw you a lifeline?

Rebecca Irvine said...

This is such a sweet post. Thank you for your thoughts encouraging us to reach out to others. I know I needed to hear it.