The sign for an all-women’s gym near my home always snatches my attention when I drive by:
Strong Girls Lift Each Other.
The words of that bright pink sign usually send my thoughts scampering down bunny trails (but hardly about anything related to fitness or personal training). What does it mean to be strong? Why should I, and how can I, uplift the women in my life?
If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time brushing off the harsh, thoughtless words from people you care about or forgetting hurtful actions by friends. And while you might have come to grasp that “hurt people hurt people,” it is painful to be left out, forgotten, or on the receiving end of a verbal assault, even if you know it comes from a place of insecurity, envy, or plain old lack of consideration. Unkind and especially mean-spirited words or deeds may not draw blood but they still cut deep. Even exchanges with strangers — an impatient waiter, a rude cashier, the less-than-helpful DMV clerk — can leave you frustrated or furious if you aren’t thinking beyond yourself.
In the fractured and polarized world we find ourselves in, it’s helpful to remember the dog-eared sentiment attributed to Reverend John Watson: “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” Those battles can range from personal offenses and cross words to crippled relationships, illness, financial hardship, or job insecurity. People are lugging around a ton of invisible baggage, and I’m convinced we can help lighten the load.
What if we approached every encounter with our family, friends, and neighbors as if we had the power to make it better?
What Jesus has done for us through His life, death, and resurrection makes it possible. The power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us transforms us to be like Christ. We’re different as a result, and we’re able to live out what is asked of us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “encourage one another and build one another up.”
Darlings, encouragement is a secret power. Have you ever thought about that? It can mend a bruised heart, disarm hostility, and diffuse tension. Sometimes kindness is all a person needs to feel better. A kindhearted word of encouragement has the potential to brighten someone’s day.
When my daughter was younger, she and her friends would have a “Power Hour” where, one by one, they’d take turns affirming one another, speaking words of encouragement to counter all the junk and negativity that would find themselves into their teenage heads and hearts. More recently, I was among a group of friends, and time was set aside to speak truth and encouragement over one another. No matter what we brought into that room, each of us left that space buoyed by the precious words poured into us. As we lifted each other up, we were building muscle, becoming stronger in ways that would carry us back into places that aren’t always so kind.
When we encourage one another, we reflect the heart of Jesus and honor God. These are three of the most life-giving ways others have encouraged me and what I try to do likewise:
- Tell them how you see Jesus in them. I cannot overstate how powerful this is to hear. We receive a million negative messages a day — some are self-inflicted — and the positive affirmation of someone seeing Christ’s qualities in us makes us want to be even more like Him.
- Give them the freedom to share their struggles, pain, and insecurities without trying to fix what’s broken. Have you ever seen listening as encouragement? It is. And it’s not passive either. Listening without offering remedy requires restraint. Allowing someone to pour out their heart and loving them without feeling the need to judge or fix them is one of the kindest, most unselfish things you can offer.
- Celebrate their joys and successes wholeheartedly. Someone else’s gains don’t mean you’ve lost, but if we’re honest, sometimes it feels that way. When people are wholeheartedly for you, you know it, but we also know when people are half-heartedly for us, don’t we? By centering on the one who has reason to celebrate, we resist the temptation to focus on ourselves and believe lies of scarcity that simply aren’t true.
Women whose strength is in the Lord can empower others by encouraging them.
What is one way you’re inspired to lift each other up today?