The other morning I was busily engaged in my usual writing exercise when my daughter texted me that her daily phone call would be a little delayed. She had to stop for gas because the gas light went on in her car. Immediately I connected it to what I had been writing about. Encouragement.
I pondered if we humans have such a thing in the area of our emotions. Do we have an “indicator light” similar to the gas light in automobiles, to warn us we are low on the emotional fuel we need? I have heard people talk about how we all have an emotional tank like the gas tank in a car. But I don’t remember anyone talking about the indicator light.
I started thinking about it.
We know that the gas indicator light goes on to warn us we are in danger of our car running out of gas. We could end up stranded somewhere we do not want to be without adequate help. Unless we have our trusty cell phone. Then we can call for help. But then we must also trust and wait. Our lives interrupted by lack of preparation or not paying attention. Not the end of the world but still – No fun.
If we run out of gas emotionally what might that look like? Is it when we find ourselves somewhere we do not want to be emotionally? In a fit of rage? Overcome with depression? Having a meltdown into tears? Unable to function in a rational way, maybe even staring off into space because we are overwhelmed?
Been there? Overwhelmed?
Duh I say to myself. If you are breathing you have experienced being overwhelmed in some capacity.
So what do we do with that? How do we avoid that? Where is the warning sign?
What is the indicator light?
I believe it is – Discouragement.
I’m not sure we all recognize discouragement – unless it is profound. But I realized that when discouragement is creeping in we have less:
less joy, less strength, less motivation, less attention span, less courage etc.
It is like our soul is collectively tired. It is!! It is telling us we are running out of “gas”.
How do we refill?
We need encouragement.
Sounds too simple I know. But let’s look at what encouragement actually is:
Encouragement is giving support. My first thought when I saw that word “support” was money. Which is true but not exclusively. There is also the support a building requires for the walls and roof to stay up. There is the support provided when you half carry someone with an injured leg or foot who cannot walk. A cast supports broken bones so they can heal. Support is being there for what is needed.
Encouragement is instilling confidence. Which is putting courage in where it is lacking, where there is uncertainty and doubt. It is reminding someone of what is true and trustworthy. Reminding them of where their trust and faith can be placed. The secure place for their emotional footing.
Encouragement is feeding hope. Hope is the support system to our belief that we can expect a different and better outcome. Hopelessness is a byproduct of discouragement. Hope needs to be fed.
Encouragement is empowering. It changes perception. It causes a person to see their abilities differently.
Encouragement is a form of love. It puts courage back where it has been lost due to fear. But there is a perfect love that throws that fear out and instills a boldness. It is what I call The Love that Heals.
Encouragement is vital just like breathing.
So where do we get it?
I see two places. One is our self and the other is other people.
Encouraging ourselves is a skill that is learned. We are not born with it. Even infants need to learn the skill of what is called “self-soothing”. Children that grow up well loved are better at this than those lacking that emotional support.
The greatest internal support is to know that we are loved and that that love does not hinge on anything we do. That is The Love that Heals. That is the Love of The Pursuer. That is what gave David (a guy in the bible) the ability to encourage himself when his army was overwhelmed and threatened to kill him. He was so successful at this that he was able to get control of the angry mob and lead those same men to regain what the enemy had stolen from them. Did you get that? He turned that angry mob into an army that followed him. That is powerful.
Encouragement IS powerful.
However, if we have found ourselves in the land of overwhelmed and lack the ability to encourage ourselves effectively, what then? This is where our truster is tested. Do we have someone in our life we trust with our darkness? If we do we must go to them for help. If we do not, it is imperative that we find someone.
“Oh no! That is too scary. What will they think? What will they say? What will they do?”
I have been in that frozen state of hiding. Trapped between the fears of staying in the dark place and allowing others to see my dark side. Trapped in the place where it is hard to breathe.
Only one thing has brought me out. The encouragement from The Love that Heals to come out into the light where it is safe with Him. He has encouraged me to open up, to make myself vulnerable. To allow others to see my imperfections and failings. It was terrifying. But it was also life changing.
I may not be able to encourage myself ALL the time but I have done it in times I previously had been inept. I have accomplished that by pre-encouraging myself. I do this every day. I program my mind with things I want in there using songs, affirmations, scriptures and books that are emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy.
Yes it is true that reaching out to someone for help involves risk. But the alternative is also true. If we do not acquire the help we need to bring about whatever change is necessary – the overwhelming will simply cycle. We can push it under using numerous methods of avoidance but it will surface again.
And once we have acquired the breath we have needed we can pass it on to others.
We can provide support – sit and listen, speak kind and truthful words that build up, babysit, cook a meal, pray with or for them…
We can instill confidence – be trustworthy, remind them of their faith, remind them of qualities and abilities they have…
We can feed their hope – remind them of past victories, speak of positive possibilities, share stories of others who have made it through…
We can empower them – tell them the good things you see in them, help them problem solve, let them help you…
We can love them – do not lie to make them feel better, remind them that they are not alone, ask them how you can help, remind them of The Love that Heals…
We can help them breathe.
What are some practical ways YOU have been encouraged or have encouraged others?
Please share in the comments. We need your input. #healinghappenstogether
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