God has very recently brought a few people into my life who are giving me the gift of encouragement. I cannot begin to describe the impact of words that say: “I care for you; I appreciate you; I see your struggles.” It is easy to let life happen around us and to stop taking the time to speak these words to one another, and so I am exceedingly grateful for the voices of a few women in particular who are regularly taking the time to encourage and affirm me.
One of my personal challenges with being a part of an actively missional congregation is that I can sometimes feel like my needs dare not occupy prime real estate of our life and work together. And this is not some issue about my self-esteem. It is reinforced often enough when we talk about an apparent hierarchy in terms of who is worthy of being needy. Because really, how can my concerns and difficulties compare with those of a church member who was shot a few weeks ago, or one who just entered rehab for yet another attempt at sobriety? But the fact is, I am needy. And I perhaps see that now more clearly than ever.
I was also inspired today by a fellow blogger’s profound transparency in openly sharing a specific personal struggle. And I was equally struck by the seeming rarity of such practice in much of what calls itself Christian community today.
What I know today is that I am thankful for the encouragers God has sent me. And I am challenged to think about how I can be present to those around me, both the visibly and the invisibly needy, as a person of transparency, encouragement and affirmation. Because I imagine that that will be the thing that has a greater and more lasting significance than any sermon or worship service ever will.