On the exterior, I am a glass half full optimist. But, if I really let you in on a personal level, you might notice I can be more of a glass half empty thinker. As a mom, I tend to doubt myself. But even when I was working, I would often question by abilities there as well. In either arena, I often question how am I doing and wonder if I am doing enough? With my children, am I balancing love, discipline, encouragement, and consistency? Am I instilling my faith into my children’s lives, not just a religion, but a relationship with their creator? Are they learning enough? Are they behaving and being kind to others? In reality, the list can go on and on.
I struggle with self-doubt, and this can quickly turn into negativity in my mind. I often don’t give myself much credit for the good, but tend to focus on the shortcomings. It can be a dark and lonely place inside my own head.
Am I alone in this or can you relate? Are you ever prone to feeling down or having self-doubt? I think we all are on some degree. We even see Paul in the scriptures struggle with similar feelings. Let’s take a look:
For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. – 2 Corinthians 7:5-6
Paul was feeling a bit discouraged. His line, “conflicts on the outside and fears within” resonates with me. We all face conflict. Some small, some great. But like Paul, I also have fears on the inside. With these feelings so prevalent, how does God respond? In His all-knowing, loving-kindness, He sends along a friend. Titus comes to Paul and brings him comfort. Titus provides encouragement. What’s interesting to me in this instance is that God didn’t take away Paul’s troubles or fears, but rather sends along a companion to comfort. Paul certainly still faced opposition, however his friend Titus’ words and presence lifted his spirit. Sometimes in life, we all need a Titus.
How can we follow God’s lead here? How can we use our lives to be like Titus? I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other isn’t anything material. It’s 100% free. It’s easy to give and requires very little effort, but yet so many of us find it hard or uncomfortable to give. I am talking about encouragement.
How often do you notice something about someone else? If you’re like me, you notice all kinds of things. How a person cares for themselves, how they speak, their mannerisms, how they respond, how they spend their spare time, their work ethic . . . on and on. Some of these things I observe within just a few moments, others take some time while getting to know a person. However, through my observations, there is ALWAYS something praiseworthy.
Do you know that God wants to use all of us to speak out these areas of admiration in others? If we notice something good, by all means, we need to SAY IT! I have observed an interesting phenomenon in this stage of life. We often notice something good, think it, and either say nothing OR we mention it to someone else.
Do we withhold praise or encouragement because we are afraid of puffing up one’s ego? Do we withhold encouragement because of our own insecurities? Do we withhold it because we are waiting for the other person to acknowledge something positive in us first? I’m not certain, but what I do know is that you could do a world of good in someone’s heart, mind, attitude and disposition by telling them the good you see in them.
None of us are perfect. We all have things we need to work on, but why not choose be a Titus? Why not encourage? We can’t take away life's problems, but we can lift or lighten the load with a genuine word of praise or affirmation. I think of all of the children who long to hear a genuine word from their parents. I think of all of the spouses who just long to be appreciated or recognized. I think of all the stay at home moms, or hard working employees, who would be so lifted by a positive word. Let’s not wait to receive it ourselves. Let’s make a vow to not withhold it from others. Let’s freely give the free gift of encouragement.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11