Build each other up

So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 CEB

Recently a mom and dad came to me in the hopes that I could help them figure out what to do.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I had a few ideas, offered a couple of options.  But honestly, I didn’t know.

What I did know was that I could encourage them.  For real, not just patronize them with platitudes or false confidence.  Certainty is not all it is cracked up to be, because it isn’t real.  Nothing is certain.  There is no one right way.  

Here are a few ways that I find encouraging:

* I am encouraged when someone is willing to listen to my endless need to verbally process.  I can tell the difference between someone listening and being humored - I bet you can too.  Not everyone is equipped for such hard work as presence, active listening and such.  It’s ok.  We all bring different gifts to relationships.  
* I am encouraged when I witness joy and curiosity and playfulness in others.  This is not my strong suit and when I am able to see how it is done, it provides me a good example to follow.
* I am encouraged when I am on a team that cooperates, appreciates, respects and laughs together.  I love working and playing with people who sincerely love one another.  In our community, we are exceedingly blessed to have a lot of love among us.
* I am encouraged when I get a good night’s sleep.
* I am encouraged when I have time in nature.
* I am encouraged by the resilience and courage and hope I see in families who work recovery.
* I am encouraged by people who hold fast to faith in a world where having faith is no longer cool.

What encourages you?

Encourage who you can

Even the most resilient person can fail to thrive without necessary support and encouragement.  We were working late last night when a young adult showed up in a desperate state.
He immediately began to tell us how he had ruined his life; it was all his fault; he needed help but could totally understand why no one would help him.

Scott replied, “I think it is a bit more complicated than that.”  He provided resources appropriate to the situation as we understood it.  As always, it felt too little for so much need.  
This person wasn’t able to hear much.  He wasn’t really comfortable in our presence.  But there was no way we were going to let him leave without a bit of encouragement.

Maybe this simple sentence feels like it offers little in the way of comfort.  But what we discover over and over again is that suffering people are rarely able to receive much more than a small dose, the tiniest hint of feedback that just because a person has done a lot of naughty things, it doesn’t mean that they are people who do not deserve dignity and respect.
We are not as resilient as we once were as a culture.  Our infighting and name calling and judging and blaming and shaming of one another has become a cultural norm.  This must stop.  This is killing us all.  

How can you encourage others today?  Even people you disagree with at every turn - how can you put more encouragement into the world?