The Power Of Encouragement

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One of the biggest gifts we can give to our children, our parents, and all those we lead is encouragement. Life is hard. It's full of challenges, bumps in the road, and painful moments. Most of us think our problems are unique. "No one could ever understand how scared I am." "No one can get how important this is to me." Those are the moments when we are desperate to connect with something bigger than ourselves, someone who gets us. We need to know we are still ok, that someone sees in us what we can't see in ourselves. Praise feels nice for a fleeting moment, but encouragement is what connects us. It's the moment we hear the other person through their eyes, not our own.

Something magical happens when we connect with the feeling the other person is having. We don't have to have been through their exact situation, but we dig down deep in ourselves and remember a time that we felt that way. We share our own pain and how we stumbled through it, and ultimately how we grew from it. We let people know we believe, they too, can get through their challenge. They can find their strength because you see it in them even when they do not. They too, will grow.

This is a poem that inspired me in a moment that I felt discouraged. My dad gave me this poem when I hit a stumbling block in my teens and I put it up on my wall that day. I have kept it somewhere I could read it daily ever since, and now have it placed where my daughters can do the same. I hope it encourages you through the hard moments in life as it did for me.

After A While

By Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while

you learn the subtle difference between

holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn

that love doesn’t mean leaning and

company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin

to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises

And you begin

to accept your defeats with your head up and

your eyes open, with the grace of an adult,

not the grief of a child,

And you learn

to build all your roads on today because

tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.

After a while

you learn that even sunshine burns

if you get too much.

So plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul,

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn

that you really can endure

that you really are strong,

and you really do have worth.