The Powerful Impact of its Reverberations
Never underestimate the power of encouragement.
For I have found it to be a key that has unlocked the prison of so many fears, doubts, insecurities and cynical thoughts. Without these timely encouragements from others, friends and strangers alike, I may still be sitting in a locked room (metaphorically of course), looking at familiar walls, with no courage to try and get out.
Hemmed in and stuck in a darkness that so easily wants to take control.
When I have heard encouraging words spoken over me, it resembles hearing a key turning in the lock of a closed door.
It became just what I needed to help me step outside that which was holding me back and closing me in.
But it is not just hearing the encouragement that sets us free.
Encouragement is something we have to choose to receive. We can choose to ignore it and let our insecurities or cynicism speak louder. So, instead of listening to encouragement, we listen to a voice that doesn’t set us free. Because it isn’t the truth.
I am sure we have all been there. We have brushed off an encouraging word because our insecurities and cynicism have talked to us for far too long and we can struggle to believe anything else as truth.
‘I will never be good at that.’
‘I don’t think that will ever be achieved.’
‘I have never experienced anything different so why would it change now?’
‘It’s easier to try and do this alone because people have hurt me in the past.’
‘One person told me I wasn’t good enough, I bet everyone thinks that too.’
Do statements like these sound familiar to you?
When you hear an encouraging word directed at yourself, be cautious if your first response is a cynical thought that is trying to stop you discovering and embracing truth. Don’t brush the encouragement off, even if you find it awkward to hear.
The bible doesn’t say, if you hear truth it will set you free. It says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).
Choose to receive it and spend time reflecting on it.
Encouragement is what releases us to go beyond the familiar. It shouts from the side lines, ‘keep going, give it a go, don’t back down now.’
Encouragement gives us stamina.
On the contary, cynicism is lazy because it doesn’t go very far. It refuses to go in to the realm of new possibilities. It thinks it is trying to protect us, but really, it is limiting us.
Cynicism keeps us thinking small, whereas encouragement pushes us to believe that there could be something more than our limited perspective and reminds us there is a bigger picture.
The Absence of Encouragement
What happens when encouragement isn’t given? What if you are going through a time in your life where encouraging words are rarely spoken to you?
I have known how this feels. More recently, this has been my story. And it has taught me something very important:
Just because an environment isn’t fertile in encouragement and honour, it doesn’t mean that you should not do what God has called you to do. These environments may not be as God would want them, but, He does use these barren places to teach you about not needing the affirmation, acceptance, and encouragement of people when you step in to His will.
I may sound like I am contradicting myself. Although encouragement from others in my life has often been the key to help me step in to the things God has for me, when it hasn’t been present God has taught me to look to Him to find my courage to break out of my locked room of limitations to ensure that I would be willing to step out anyway.
Because, ultimately, it is He who gives us courage.
God is our greatest encourager.
We don’t need the encouragement of others but it sure can help and it is actually how God has designed us to flourish.
In a healthy, encouraging, community.
The Key that was Offered to Me
A few months back, my husband and I embarked on a new adventure of writing songs together. We wrote and finished one and we introduced it to our Church one Sunday morning. We received feedback, and, like with anything you are vulnerable enough to put out there, we received encouraging words and some slightly more critical.
As time passed, I found myself sitting in that locked room with my insecurities and cynical thoughts. ‘We’ve only got one song in us’, ‘I am not really very good at this.’ ‘It’s not worth all the effort and hard work just to get critiqued.’
Can you see how lazy cynicism is?
It doesn’t get you very far and it hates the realm of new possibilities.
Then, one Sunday morning, I was offered a key to unlock the door of the room of cynicism I had found myself in. One of the guys in our worship band and I were talking about songwriting and I was telling him I didn’t know if I had any more songs in me. He asked if I had ever considered using what I had already written in my blog to help me write a song because he believed the posts I had written had blessed others he knew.
What a beautiful encouragement to receive. And I chose to receive it.
The very next day I sat down to read some of my blog posts and came across the prayer ‘Unashamed’. As I read this prayer I knew this was what I wanted to write my song about. Two days later, my husband and I had written and finished our second song, ‘Famous for Faithfulness’.
Our band mate’s encouragement spoke louder than my fear and insecurities over writing new songs. I took the key that he offered to me and walked myself out of that room. As a result, I stepped in to the new and moved beyond my familiar.
Encouragement is so incredibly powerful. It has the power to bring out the calling of God in you.
Lighting up the dark
It can be easy to encourage people when things are going well for somebody, when a gift is being used and shown or when achievements are gained. However, do we still encourage people when we can see things are not going well?
A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.
Will we encourage the one captive in their chains? The one who is living out of their insecurity? Not to encourage that which they struggle with, but to help them see that there is better for them.
Will we encourage the one who has lost their job? The one who did not achieve everything they set out and expected to do and is living under the weight of disappointment?
Maybe you feel like you’ve sunk under the weight of dreams not realised. I’ve been there.
Encouragement is the moment when the light comes in and seeps in to dark crevasses of which your dreams have sunk in to. Encouragement helps you see they are still there. Buried, but not dead.
Thank you to all those who have re-highlighted and re-awoken my dreams through their encouragement, helping me to see they have always remained, beneath the weight of my disappointment and cynicism.
May this be your encouragement – shining a light on all the new possibilities that await you, or re-awakening dreams that have been given up on.
An encouragement that says ‘found in the ashes, you still have a chance,’ and, ‘your best is still to come.’
These are the whispers of encouragement that caused the light to flood in during my tough season. They changed the course of my life. They helped me not give up.
I am living in the fruit of the encouragement of those who have so lovingly cheered me on through my teens and twenties. That’s what it can do. That’s the powerful impact of its reverberations.
So, may your encouragement towards someone else, in the good times and bad, echo in to eternity. May your key of encouragement give someone else the courage to open their once locked door and step on to the path that God has destined them to walk, taking them to their promised land. Because encouragement has the power to do that.
That power is in you.