"The world needs encouragers. We have enough critics." Ann Voskamp
Credit and copyright to Leah German 2016
This statement has haunted me the past few weeks. Maybe because as a Mama my eyes have been blown open by the harsh world of competition and myriad demands that come to our kids even from a very young age. And how the constant highlight on what is amiss can even crush the strongest of spirits. Or maybe it is because God has shown me so many people going above and beyond trying to provide for their families, working overtime, working short staffed, kids trying their best, moms trying to keep all the plates in the air, dads competing in the market place while being super dad at home, and how despite all of this, often there is so little encouragement or acknowledgement.
Yet there is no need to search far to find even the best efforts to be pulled apart by critics or the demands to change the success of today into the new expected standard for tomorrow.
As a mom it is so easy to fall into the trap of always highlighting and correcting behavior. “Say please and thank you! Don’t chew with your mouth open! Pick up your toys! Don’t taunt your sister! Stop drawing on the wall….” On and on an on. Behavior modification. Much of it driven by the highly competitive keep-up-with the-Jones’ world and if the little kid doesn’t shape up he or she will not fit into the neat little Ivy League-soccer-champ box and all hope is lost.
Then we expand our list of expected behavior outside our front door in how we expect others to act and how fast they should act and we get focused on everything they neglect to do the way it will best suit us. It is after all a “Have it MY way” world right? It starts to color the way we look at the world.
Skewed and always half empty and not just half empty but the little that remains in the cup is not good enough either.
We hide behind the fact that we are “assertive” while often assertiveness is nothing than entitled rudeness.
After all the world revolves around us, and if it doesn’t it better shape up – FAST!
And then. On an unsuspected day. When your soul desperately needs some good news.
You meet a flower in the midst of the drought, and God’s love and words of hope falls like a soft spring rain on a dry cracked soul.
Encouragers stand out in this world filled with demanding faultfinding voices.
She is a tiny retired teacher. It makes it hard to believe that such a tiny frame holds such a big heart and even bigger words. She is supposed to tutor our son but she’s become a voice of sanity in my world of desperately trying to catch up.
She is not merely trying to find the bright side of things; she lives where all obstacles are opportunities and where in her reality the obstacles are not big enough to drown out the beauty of all the potential and gifts.
She specializes in zooming in on the things that are right; she praises the effort, the perseverance, developing the character instead of getting caught up in the minors. She is like a candle in the dark and children and adults alike are drawn to her kindness.
It pains me that she should be such a rare exception in a world that has so much to offer.
I see my boy that’s been carrying heavy from so many demands grow a few inches taller, I see the light of hope flickering in his eyes every time he leaves her house. It speaks volumes that he can look like that even when he gets tutoring on the things he dislikes the most.
Credit and copyright to Leah German 2016
Mrs. Sandy. Her kind uplifting words. Like rain.
Never measuring up.
More and more and more.
Always underlining that which is not perfect.
Those are the trademarks of the critics and how they make those around them feel.
God, I want Mrs. Sandy’s eyes.
I want to look at the moms and dads, and co-workers and, my own children, and teachers, and church leaders, and check out clerks, and I want to look at them and remember that they all are facing some trials or difficulties on certain levels. I want to remember that more is to be gained from a kind, soft, encouraging word than to point out all that is not right.
Sure there are times to bring down the hammer. But the hammer should be a tool to be used only in select cases. Perhaps if encouragement were used more often the use of the hammer would become less necessary.
If the hammer is all we use or receive it leaves us and those around us defeated and broken.
God, I want Mrs Sandy’s eyes.
Because in those eyes and words I find You.
You never point out our broken places to destroy us.
You point out the broken places to pull us closer.
Yet in all of that You are the fount of Hope. Of pointing to potential of finding courage.
Of life giving WORDS.
So woman in the unnamed tent, Your Lord sees you.
He is El Roi.
The God who sees.
He is the Living Word.
If the world is threatening to break your hope go to the One whose words can speak life to even the driest bones.
You are a good mother. Not a perfect mother. A good mother. He sees you as you try to give your kids the opportunities and help them grow up into healthy adults who can be useful in society. He sees how you went the extra mile at your job by staying later to help steer off a crisis or to support a coworker. He sees how you get up every morning for months on end day in and day out to do a job you don’t really like but you do as best as you can because you want to provide for your family. He sees how you try to be faithful in your marriage, how you serve behind the scenes. He sees how you turn the other cheek, how you walk the extra mile. He sees your efforts, He sees when you are bone weary but still keep on keeping on.
The Living Word.
Let’s be determined to speak life.
Let’s be the kind of person that when people walk away from us they feel courage to face the unseen battle that only they and God know about.
It is so easy to tear down.
But it requires intentionality to uplift. The results however can be life changing.
Just as a negative remark from someone can haunt you for years to come, so powerful is the word of hope spoken at the right time.
The world has enough critics. Be determined to be an encourager.
So go ahead woman in the unnamed tent, go ahead and speak life.
TobyMac captures this beautifully in this powerful video: