Courage and Encouragement

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The desert is getting hotter and the environment feels like it is on a knife-edge. As we leave for work at daybreak, there is no telling just how hot each day will become. The heat is like a wild, untamed beast. It bites your face, your mood, your diet and stings every aspect of your life. But yet, the desert terrain remains beautiful and ever changing; a hot mess melange of intrigue and exasperation.

In this environment, of course it is vital that people drink enough water, take exercise, eat healthily and get enough rest, but most importantly it is imperative that we remain kind to one another despite our feelings and our internal and external struggles.

Everyone is fighting a demon of some kind or other. Maybe it’s fear; maybe regret about the past and worry about the future. Every single person you meet today, or have come into contact with or watch crossing a road is wrestling with something. They are worried they don’t have enough money to pay the bills. They’re regretting putting that new laptop/dress/shoes on their credit card. They’re thinking their clothes are feeling too tight. They’re worried why that person never called. They’re wondering if they are in the right job, the right relationship, the right city. They’re wondering if they will ever waken up without exhaustion or dread breathing its smelly breath in their face before their feet have even got out of bed and touched the floor at that most mutant of the morning hours.

So often, when people ask how we are, we are pressed for time (or we pretend that we are), or we are afraid of the reaction to our truthful response, so we chirp, ‘Fine!” and skip past them as quickly as we can for fear that they might just see the real us with our jaded and faded smiles and stinging tears welling in our eyes.

I have tried so many times to tell myself to be a person of courage and encouragement. In fact, if we take a closer look at the word, Encouragement, we will see that within it lies COURAGE! Yes, it will feel like we are stepping off a cliff edge by opening up and saying that we are actually not FINE (Fearful, Insecure, Neurotic & Exasperated), but by staring fear in the face and admitting that we are perhaps feeling rubbish, inadequate, ashamed, remorseful, we will free ourselves up to allow more love to grow in our relationships with others. (Now, I’m not saying we have to start telling everyone we meet how we are actually feeling, but I am convinced each one of us has at least one trusted friend with whom we can openly talk. When my friends and I meet together to catch up, we have the rules that what is said in these walls, stays in these walls. It is my dad who wisely says that if someone is not there to defend themselves, then we are not to talk about them.)

Encourage one another. We are not better or worse than anyone else on this planet.

Be careful with words and body language. In Christianity, the Bible teaches us that we have the power of life and death in our tongues.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverbs%2018&version=MSG

It also teaches us that if we judge others, we will be judged.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke%206:35-42&version=MSG

How many of us have looked at someone else’s tattoos, lifestyle choices, tutted and sighed thanked our lucky stars that s/he wasn’t our child/brother/husband? (I thank you Lord that I am not like that tax collector over there… http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+18%3A9-14&version=MSG)

When we judge others, we are actually opening up a spiritual crack in the doors of our homes and our lives to invite the very same things into the lives of those we love and are called to care for. With each harsh word spoken or judgement made on someone else, bricks fall which form a wall around you, ultimately separating you from friends, family, colleagues and fun times! So, check out your tongue. Give it a medical and remind it and you of your responsibility to speak LIFE into those around you so that you, too, will experience life in all its fullness.

PRAYER:   Lord, thank you for friends around us. Forgive us for times when we have judged too readily or harshly. Guard our mouths and our minds. Fill us with your gentleness and compassion. May we grow in honest and comforting relationships, building one another up with joy, encouragement, trust and love. Lord, help us to become those people of courage and encouragement. May we speak life into all those we come into contact with. Help us, Lord. 

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