I’ve been talking a lot about discouragement, and I’m sure your hoping I’ll move on to another topic. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not quite done with that joy-sapper yet. Although today’s post attacks this type of negative thinking from a different angle, through encouragement. Besides spirit-filled worship and Scripture meditation, encouragement is quite possibly one of the greatest weed-killers there is. (You might remember from post my previous posts that discouragement is nothing more than a nasty weed threatening to crowd out the still, soft voice of God.) Yesterday I experienced first hand just how powerful a few encouraging words can be.
I’m a thriathlete and yesterday was my first race of the season. After a bitterly cold winter and a rainy spring, I was not looking forward to the sixty-two degree lake water. In fact, I dreaded the entire race, my normal pre-race enthusiasm drained by, yup, you guessed it, discouraging thoughts. Pre-occupied with my latest novel, I haven’t trained as hard as I should have and standing with one foot in the sand and the other in the lake, I felt very unprepared. Watching women from previous heats turn around and head as fast as they could to shore once the cold water and strong waves hit didn’t help eliminate my fears. But, unprepared or not, I had trained eight months for this event, had spent $80’s on the entrance fee and had spent the past three hours just trying to get there. (That’s a story for another blog. Whew!) And swim, doggie paddle or float, I was going to finish. Even if it killed me.
Unfortunately, halfway through the bike portion of the race, my feet still thawing and every muscle in my body revolting, my resolve wavered. Suddenly all the reasons why I couldn’t make it flashed through my mind and before long my speed slowed. And it was then, halfway up the longest hill on the course, that I passed a man sitting on the side of the road shouting words of encouragement. I didn’t know him. I’d never see him again and in all likelihood, he was there to cheer someone else on, but it didn’t matter. Somehow hearing a stranger tell me that I could do it gave me the umph to make it up the hill.
We’ve all had moments when we’ve wanted to give up. When it seems like the hill we’re on will never end, or when we feel ill-equipped to finish our length of the race, but it is amazing how much smaller the hill appears and how much stronger we feel when someone offers a kind word or a smile. And now that I have experienced for myself just how powerful a kind word of encouragement can be, I’m going to be purposeful in my speech. I’m going to take my eyes off myself and my “hill” so I can focus on others. I will diligently look for ways to speak words of encouragement.
I wonder…when was the last time I encouraged my daughter? When was the last time I thanked my husband and told him what a great dad he is? When was the last time I called a friend and told her how much she meant to me? Sadly, I’ve spent way too much time checking off my to do list and not enough time pouring out the love of Christ.
Come back Wednesday to hear how I attack my next “joy-sapper”, those pesky little weasels that drain my time and make my life less productive.