I love encouraging others, and although I have no pom-poms, I am happiest acting as a cheerleader for those around me. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I realise that often I am quick to be there others but don’t take the time to encourage myself.
When I read my bible and come across a scripture that really calls to my spirit, I quickly send it to others but I rarely stop and take the time to uncover what the message may have held for me. I was quick to pass it on, but wouldn’t I also want to nurture my spirit?
Last September I decided to start my journey to become a counsellor and part of the foundational learning is self awareness, and let me tell you, it is not easy to have to confront your own insecurities but it is certainly worth it.
Each week we have a single assignment, write a reflective journal on our learning, and each week I write something about how I never felt ‘good enough‘. I may word it differently, but at the core of each journal is my struggle to feel worthy in the presence of others and the need for those ‘atta girls‘ and platitudes of external approval that I didn’t realise I had been thirsting for. Unfortunately, realising this didn’t mean immediate change, in fact for a while I was scared because my thought process started to skew my actions and I started towards that ol’ familiar place of negative thinking. However, I am not the girl I once was and one thing I have learnt is that giving a voice to our thoughts no matter how scary or silly or depressing gives you the opportunity to change the power those words have over you.
So, I started to ask myself questions (now in a therapeutic interaction I wouldn’t be so heavy handed, but my brain is a stubborn beast and this wasn’t the time for subtly!)
Who I am cheering for?
I want my friends to find joy, and I want to be a comfort to them but why?
Would I encourage if I only got rejection in return?
Would I still share if what I had to say may not be what they want to hear?
In order to answer these questions, I turn to God, to his written word and I am reminded of this scripture:
“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can (…) set you at ease.”
Genesis 41:16 NLT
This verse comes at a key moment in the life of Joseph – you may know him for his ‘technicoloured dream coat’ but there is far more to his story than that.
Joseph was rejected, sold and abandoned, he suffered great injustices for years – how would he answer those questions I posed to myself?
What can Joseph teach me about love, forgiveness and redemption?
What can I learn about encouragement, joy and staying faithful even when faced with rejection?
I need to take the time to reassess my intentions, my dreams, my goals, plans and prayers with a renewed heart, that is focused on God and not driven by self.
And the first step is to soak in the scriptures.
Over the coming month I shall be delving into Genesis 37-50 to learn how redemption and forgiveness can heal this encourager’s heart.