Encouragers Need Encouragement, Too

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Over the years of my Christian walk I have grown to have a passion for serving. At the core of my being God created me for deep relationships and helping others. I’ve always struggled with my own self-confidence and self-worth, so relationships don’t come easy for me. However, I don’t want to see others hurt or struggle like I have, so I want to help.  When it comes to myself, I’m afraid to open up, afraid of misunderstandings, and if I’m being really honest, I’m afraid of conflict.

I became a “Yes” girl, a people pleaser. I set aside my own needs in relationships in order to help and encourage those around me. I grew into the role of encourager, and I truly love helping others and lifting them up, but inside I can often be hurting, hiding my own struggles until it explodes out of me. It’s not always on purpose I do this. I easily make myself busy, and I often forget to truly take care of myself.

Thanks to the discipleship and mentorship of leaders in my life, I am learning how to balance. Sometimes it feels like I’m a slow learner, as it seems like I go through this process a lot. But the great thing about this journey called life is we are all on a journey and we have grace. Encouragers need encouragement, too, and that means being open and vulnerable. For someone who constantly serves to lift up another, it’s hard.

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History in Fellowship

“I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just.” – Psalm 71:15-16, NLT

Recently, my husband and I were invited to the home of one of our elders for an after church lunch and time of fellowship. Although we have known each other for several years, and I even went on a mission trip with this elder a couple years ago, most of our conversations were more “in passing” while at church. This would be an opportunity to be able to get to know each other on a deeper level in a relaxed environment.

It was an absolutely incredible time of an older, life-experienced couple taking in a younger couple to pass on stories and knowledge. It wasn’t an intentional teaching time, but it was sharing stories back and forth and the ways we’ve seen God working in our lives, His provision and never-failing faithfulness and love. It was encouraging and awe-inspiring to hear this dear couple’s perspective of the history they witness and experienced during their lifetime.

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I Tried to Reach Out…No One Listened

Recent celebrity suicides have once again sparked the conversation on mental health and ending the stigma associated with seeking mental help. Every other post on social media these days is someone saying in some form, “If you’re struggling, reach out to me. It’s okay to ask for help. I’m here for you”. These posts and the conversation is strong for a week or two after another event, but then they fizzle out again. But for those who struggle with mental health, the battle doesn’t end. It’s a daily battle.

I’ve experienced this struggle. I continue to struggle on a daily basis. When I was at my worst I tried to reach out. I was told I could, there was no shame in reaching out for help. But I was shamed. I was shunned and left out, left alone with the fight for my head. No one was there. No one listened to my heart. No one held out a hand to help pull me back out of the pit I had fallen in. The true hearts of those around me were revealed when they went back on their word that they would help me. Instead, I was pushed away and left behind.

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Remember Your Calling

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulations. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Trials of life cloud our vision and make us stumble off our foundations. James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). This is a word of Truth we can faithfully hold on to, but when we are in the thick of the battles of life and our knuckles are white, sometimes we find our grip slipping. Life isn’t fair and we don’t understand what is going on, but we have a secret weapon no enemy nor battle can defeat. We have Holy Spirit, and we know God’s grace isn’t fair either. He reigns over us, protecting us during trials, guiding our way back to His everlasting, comforting arms, teaching us and drawing us closer to Him along the way of the journey.

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No Topic Off Limits

Small towns tend to produce the best stories. Everybody knows everybody, and those hole-in-the-wall restaurants don’t look like much from the outside, but they always have the best food and make the best hangout spots.

Allenspark, Colorado has a little place like that called Meadow Mountain Café. I recently experienced this little place for the first time when my husband and I met a friend for one of our regular breakfast chats. It’s a small building, and easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. Once inside, it doesn’t seem like much either, with only four tables – two long tables and two round tables in opposite corners.

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