Friday, March 8, 2013

Encouragement: We all need it

OK, I just have to use one more of poet and author Maya Angelou's words of wisdom about growing older: "I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back...." (See my previous posts from this week.)

Don't you warm up just like a cat curled up in the sunshine when someone affirms you or encourages you, when someone thanks you for just being who you are, when they give you a warm hug? You and I need that ... and we're often afraid to ask for it. So ask yourself how often you give those things to others. If you do, good for you. If not, what holds you back?

Last week in my women's Bible study group, we each decided to be intentional this week on reaching out to others to encourage them. Our group facilitator, Pastor Lois, in a sermon once described the words "encourage" and "discourage" in this way: To encourage someone is to put courage into that person, and to discourage them is to take courage out. There's a great visual!

I love to compliment and affirm others, but I am even more aware of doing so this week because of my group discussing it last week. I also want to savor the experience when others give me that gift. For example,  I just received an email from a friend who said she was so grateful for something I had given her recently and grateful for my "friendship and wisdom." Wow, she just made my day!

It really doesn't take much for us to reach out and encourage someone. Sometimes it's a touch—like a hug or pat on the back. Sometimes it's our words—whether in person or by phone or mail. When you compliment or thank someone, remember to be specific. That means even more.

Who might you reach out and touch today? Who in your life might warm up to a word of thanks, praise or encouragement today?

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