When we choose a word of the year, we never know how it will be integrated into the fabric of our lives.
Will it slide in with EASE or will it be a struggle?
I chose ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE in 2020 because I was struggling to see the good in my life. God showed up in unique ways, and I learned to look for beauty in everyday situations.
Next came ABIDE in 2021. It was transformative. God woke me up every morning between 3:30 and 4:00 AM. I would then spend the next couple of hours praying and studying scripture before heading out for the day. The Holy Spirit often highlighted specific words and phrases so that I would understand how to implement a new practice into my quiet time. To ABIDE in Christ, I had to be willing to set aside any preconceived notions I had about what I should be doing. Only then could I learn to really listen to the Holy Spirit throughout the day.
My love language is words of affirmation. Therefore when it became clear to me that my 2022 word of the year was to be ENCOURAGEMENT, I was not surprised. However, I haven’t always been good at encouraging others. I have, at times, struggled with putting unrealistic expectations on myself and others. Consequently, I am often disappointed. It’s tricky to offer encouragement when the world tells you that a person who has failed you doesn’t deserve it.
Not surprisingly, God had already set things in motion before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. We are just over a month into this new year, and I have already learned that giving and receiving encouragement is far more critical than I had ever imagined.
What does it mean to encourage someone? (Merriam-Webster)
- to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident
- to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen
- to make (someone) more likely to do something
- to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope
- to attempt to persuade
- to spur on
- to give help or patronage to
I would also add offering comfort to this list.
Below are some of the highlights of 2022 to date:
“People who are capable of contributing to the solution but are unwilling to become involved may not understand the treasures God had for those who practice encouragement” – Sharon W. Betters (Treasures of Encouragement)
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ – Matthew 25:45 NIV
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13 AMP
Our strongest testimony as Christ followers in the world is how we love the world. – Wendy Speake (The 40-Day Sugar Fast)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:7-11 NIV
This next one is a bit odd, but I think it shows the power that a few words of encouragement have.
A few months ago, I found a Facebook group called Aldi Aisle of Shame Community. I initially joined the group simply to find out what it was all about. But what I found was anything but shameful. Yes, there are many posts about the items we all must-have from the Aldi Finds section (Aisle of Shame). If you’re unfamiliar with this section of the store, it’s where all of the limited-time-only items can be found. On any given day, you might find shoes, coffee, candles, furniture, gnomes, and many seasonal items. But the real reason that I love this group is all the stories of strangers helping strangers. For example, a single mom on a tight budget is overheard telling her toddler that they can’t afford the peanut butter cups that the child asked for. But the lady behind them in line buys the candy and gives it to the child (with the mom’s permission, of course). Children who spend their own money on a bouquet of flowers and then look excitedly around the store or parking lot for a stranger to give them to. This is not a Christian group, but I witness more loving support of others here than in many parts of the Christian world.
So to revisit the question at the beginning of this post, has the deliberate practice of ENCOURAGEMENT slid into my life with EASE, or has it been a struggle? My answer is that it depends on the day and the level of stress that I am experiencing.
Who knew that ENCOURAGEMENT was exactly the word that I needed this year?
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13 NIV
#write28days #write28days2022 #ease #W28D