The dictionary defines encourage as "give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)." Someone else once defined it for me as giving another courage. This is a topic that has been on my heart a lot lately. As I struggle to find courage myself, I find that I am in a profession where I hand out encouragement daily. I love it, I find as a counselor I meet with individuals who may never have been given courage or if they were it was tied or connected to some outcome or expectation. That they could be who they wanted or what they wanted if they would just do this or that. Truth be told (at least from my perspective) we all just want to know that someone, even if just one person, believes in us regardless of what we're able to do or what we can give that other person or anyone for that matter.
As I've gotten older my perspective on Christmas has changed... for the better. When I was younger my focus was on the wonderment of it all. The lights, the tree, Santa, cookies, presents... anything and everything but the true meaning. I just didn't get it when I was little. But now, now I wonder about that most momentous night when Christ came to earth as a baby. I think about what lead to his birth, what Mary must have been thinking when the angel came to tell her that she would give birth to the son of God. What Joseph was thinking, what their parents thought. How do you even begin to explain to others that you have not slept with your betrothed before marriage and yet you're pregnant? I can't imagine that you possibly could, except that God was in it... every step of the way, He had a plan. He still does.
Mary was given courage in that God chose her. He gave encouragement that she could fulfill what He called her to do with her body, with her life. There are a million other stories in the Bible of those that were given courage from God. That despite what they were doing with their lives or the choices they made, God still encouraged and gave them new hope, a new life. He would use where they struggled or the bad decisions they made in the past to fulfill the promise He had on their lives. And I guess that is where I'm going with this post. We have a book full of encouragement to use with one another. We don't have to struggle to find words to say to give courage to another. God gave us a handbook with timeless words of encouragement.
I love words of encouragement, they are my number one love language and so I guess I get frustrated when words are handed out with a feeling of emptiness. Like the person just wants to say anything to make someone else feel better so they pull out the over used "I'm sorry you're hurting" and that's it. And I'm not here to point fingers, I've been there, I struggle to find words to say when others are in a place I cannot relate to or a place very different from myself. My hope is that when I search my heart to find words to encourage another it's more than just an "I'm sorry" but something deeper, something that will give the other person hope that they're not going to stay in that place where all they hear is an "I'm sorry."
My hope as a counselor, as a daughter, as a sister, as an aunt, as a friend... whatever role I'm in that I would go past the I'm sorry to something I see in that person that maybe in the moment or the season that person cannot see in themselves. To give them hope and remind them that where they are at right now is not where they are destined to stay.
There is not a whole lot I can do. In fact there are many things I am not gifted in, but I do know that God has called me to give courage, to encourage, and to go deep with people. I hope that my life, much like Mary's and so many others in the Bible will be one that God is pleased with, one that I fulfill all that He has called me to do here on earth.
"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."
~ Luke 1:45
Be Born in Me (Mary) by Francesca Battistelli