by Alycia Morales
The other day, a gentleman who attended my freelance editing class at a recent writers conference sent me an email. In it, he mentioned how much a previous blog post had made him think. Then, he went on to encourage me by sharing a scripture verse about words and attached it to a thought about editing. What this man didn’t know is that I’ve gone back and forth with God a lot lately. Do I keep editing? Or do I take some time off to write? After all, Lord, when You called me to this career path, you said to write for You. You didn’t mention editing. That just kind of fell into my lap. But with one e-mail, God showed up again and said I’m on the right path. Because one man took a moment to send me an encouraging word.
When is the last time you sent someone an encouraging word? Have you heard the Lord whisper to you during your prayer time or while you’re reading someone’s Facebook post? “Tell him this…” It happens to me on occasion. And I don’t usually hesitate to follow God’s instructions.
We tend to get caught up in our day-to-day routines and circumstances. Our thoughts are overwhelmed with whether or not we’ll be able to buy groceries after we tithe and pay the rent and put gas in the car so we can get back and forth to work this week. Whether or not the chemo is going to work. Whether or not our marriage will ever get better. Whether or not our kids are making healthy choices. Whether or not our loved one will return safely from overseas. All those thoughts overwhelm and cause anxiety, confusion, fear, and panic attacks. Depression. Anger. Frustration.
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25).
It’s during those moments in life that one encouragement can give us hope for the future. One prophetic moment can steer us back on track. One word can change our life. Refocus us on Jesus. Take our eyes off what is happening in this world and place them back on what is happening in the heavenly realm we truly call home.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
Maybe you’re not quite sure how to encourage someone. You’ve thought and thought and thought about what to say, prayed about what to say, and you’re still coming up empty-handed (or empty-mouthed). I have a few ideas for you.
1. Create a meme (or photo-graphic) and e-mail it or post it to your friend’s Facebook timeline. You can always print it off and mail it, too.
2. Call them. Ask how their day is going and if you can pray for them. With all of the social media sites and e-mail access we have today, a phone call is a rarity.
3. Write them a note or a letter and send it snail mail. Again, another casualty of the internet. And a rarity.
4. Consider what your friend enjoys. Crafts? Books? Coffee? Model airplanes? Fishing? Shooting? Buy a gift card and give it to them. Let them know you recognize they need some time to do the things they enjoy. Help them take a break from life, even if it’s half an hour.
5. How’s their marriage? A little rough around the edges? How about blessing them with a date night. The busyness of nine-to-five has a bad habit of taking over these days. Maybe they work different shifts. Some time together may be just the thing they need, and who doesn’t like dinner and a movie or a nice stroll through the park?
6. Is your friend an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom? Can you take her kids for a morning or afternoon so that she can either get some much-needed R&R, go out for lunch and a movie, or do the grocery shopping without three sets of little hands adding unnecessary purchases to her cart?
7. Is there a college kid or a soldier you can send a care package to? You’ll never know how lonely it can get in the dorm rooms or the battle fields of life until you’ve lived there. Bake some cookies. Buy some hard candies. Gift cards. Socks. Write a letter. Send a photo. There are all sorts of things you can put in a care package.
8. When’s the last time you invited your neighbor over for barbecue? It’s summer in the US right now. Fire up the grill and invite the neighborhood. Sometimes fellowship is the best pick-me-up around.
9. Make a date. With your friend. Your spouse. Your child. Your grandmother. Your co-worker. And make sure you keep it. Don’t isolate yourself, and don’t let your significant others isolate themselves, either. Spend some quality time together.
10. Invite someone to church. Did you know that 7 out of 10 unchurched people have never been invited to church? Now’s a good time to start bringing in that harvest…