What Does Encouragement Look Like?

 

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It seems that everyone is facing a challenge of some sort and if not, they are often feeling caught up in the mundane tasks and duties of their world. Without a doubt, most of us are either looking for or would welcome a little encouragement.

 

We certainly can receive encouragement from God’s Word and times with Him in prayer and reflection, but there are times when the heavens seem closed to us and the Word reads like an assignment from a literature class we are not “feeling” if we are totally honest.

 

What does encouragement look like?

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I think it may vary depending on our personality, the season of life we are in, our gender, our love language, or the levels of relationships we have or do not have.

 

I probably spent a great deal of my growing up years yearning for more encouragement than I felt I received. Chances are, I entered adulthood with a deficit in that area. One of the results in early adulthood was that I often was hoping, looking, or expecting encouragement without being very good at giving it.

 

I also must admit that even if I tried to offer encouragement to someone else, hoping to receive some in return often tainted my motive. I am sure you guessed the result of that. They did not really feel as encouraged as they might have desired since my primary focus was on me versus them.

 

That nudged me to look more deeply at my motives and wants to learn what my heart was truly longing to receive. Sometimes I received words that I knew were supposed to be encouraging to me, but somehow failed to hit the mark. My primary love languages are affirming words and quality time so what was the problem? On far too many occasions, my dear husband was left scratching his head wondering why his words had not reached the place he so desired to touch with his love for me.

 

My personal survey enlightened my understanding a bit. Too often in those growing up years I had heard a statement such as “that’s nice” or “that’s good” followed by a qualifier of how I could have done it differently or better. As a result, the words went KLUNK!! I realized that words like “nice job” or “good work” almost made me feel worse than no words at all. It was as if they went SPLAT against a wall.

 

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What I was looking for was positive encouragement that was specific; words that allowed me to know the person had recognized an aspect of my performance or person.

 

Those types of words conveyed real care for me. They also said something else: “I really see you”. The more general words of praise failed to make the mark when they came from someone who had a significant relationship with me. Those general words were ones shouted out from stadium seats to players or performers we usually did not even know. The praise was real, but did not acknowledge a relationship with the receiver.

 

For me, true encouragement that nourished my soul came from relationships that were meaningful to me and included something more specific. Here are just a few examples:

  • I loved when you…
  • What I liked most was….
  • I know you can do a good job on this because…
  • The color of that dress is great on you.

 

I could make a longer list, but I am sure you see what I mean.

 

The most important thing I discovered was the Lord’s whispers to me were exactly what I needed and showed me clearly that He saw me and knew me. And a funny thing started to happen, I started to encourage others by attending to who they specifically were without concern for what I wanted or hoped to get from them.

 

I tapped into the true source of encouragement!

 

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)

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13 thoughts on “What Does Encouragement Look Like?

  1. Wow, so much insight in this message! I agree that we all need meaningful encouragement no matter how old we are or what position we stand in. From childhood on, it is meaningful encouragement that uplifts and supports us in everything we do. And now I wonder why the world is so quick to cut us down instead of encouraging us on our paths whatever path we choose. Thanks for sharing and linking up.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    1. Thanks, Shelbee! Encouragement is not an expensive thing to give, but it costs us thinking less of what we want and seeing how to bless someone else. That is something each of us gets challenged by from time to time.

  2. Well said, Pam! I also have words of affirmation as one of my primary love languages, and you’ve shown me why I often don’t feel affirmed when people encourage me :).

    1. So kind of God to show you that. You are quite a wordsmith so I am not surprised how lack of specific words of encouragement can impact you.

  3. Pam, I grew up in a home where there was a lot of encouragement. I remember my father telling me over and over again, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” My husband also grew up in a good home, but a negative environment that lacked encouragement. I certainly see the difference those kinds of homes can make in an adult’s life. I’m a super optimistic person. My husband, on the other hand, is a pessimist all the way to the core! LOL I have to be very encouraging to him and constantly lifting him up. It’s challenging, but I love it! 🙂 That’s a beautiful pic of you and your hubs!

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Patsy!! Yes, there is a world of difference. My sweet man grew up in a home with an emotionally and sometimes physically abusive dad and never heard his dad say “I love you” let alone any other encouragement. Despite Jesus he is more often pulled toward the negative.

      Glad you loved the pic. It’s a fav of ours from a photo shoot we did for our 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago.😊

  4. Pam, we are certainly kindred spirits. I grew up with a lack of encouragement…often the result of a critical parent who spoke death over me instead of life. This parent didn’t “see me.” And I have the same 2 love languages as you.

    I think when we grow up with a deficit in this area, we not only don’t learn how to be an authentic encourager to others, but we try to find ways to make up for the lack. So thankful the Lord shows us how much He accepts us and how we can then be real encouragers to others.

  5. Good words Pam!! And I love the picture of you two lovebirds!! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  6. This is spot on Pam. You are very encouraging to me. Words are not my strength and I often find myself stumbling . I am challenged to work harder at this and be more intentional. Thank you .

  7. Oh Pam, this is so good. Learning to give encouragement is a skill we need practice at. And what insight you discovered when you learned you wanted specific encouragement. Specific encouragement does make us feel more seen. It is harder to give, but so well worth it.

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