You probably already knew this and I am late in the game, but why is it that discouragement sticks around longer than encouragement? Is it because my ears are tuned and my heart lacks the confidence needed to pull the weeds discouragement sews?
And when I want to encourage you, but aren’t sure it’s going to make it through all the static of discouragement, what should I do? How should I get the message across? It’s too bad I don’t have my bullhorn because that would spice things up immediately. I could start with something like this:
“HEY! HEY YOU IN THE POLKA DOT SHIRT AND PINK SHORTS! I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE PRETTY ROCKIN’ AWESOME AND THAT IF I HAD MY WAY, I’D MAKE YOU PRESIDENT AND AFTER THAT I WOULD BAKE YOU A BATCH OF MY MOST FAVORITE COOKIES AND BRING THEM TO THE WHITE HOUSE BECAUSE THAT’S JUST HOW SPECIAL I THINK YOU ARE.
I PRETTY MUCH THINK YOUR POTENTIAL IS LIMITLESS. I DO. AND WHEN I LOOK UP ‘POTENTIAL’ IN THE DICTIONARY, I SEE YOUR PICTURE NEXT TO IT. WHEN I LOOK UP ‘SUCCESS,’ I SEE A COMPUTER RENDERING OF YOUR FACE IN THE FUTURE. ARE YOU LISTENING? CAN YOU BURY THIS DOWN DEEP IN YOUR HEART SO THAT DISCOURAGEMENT COMES, YOU CAN REMEMBER. ACTUALLY…HERE…LET ME GIVE YOU A COPY OF MY DICTIONARY. THAT MAY HELP. DON’T MIND PAGE 902 AND PAGE 1178. I HAD TO GLUE YOUR PICTURE IN, YOU KNOW, AND SOME OF THE PAGES STUCK TOGETHER.”
I can’t believe you just read all that.
But that would be me with the bullhorn and you with the polka dot shirt and pink shorts — and the cookies and dictionary, too. I would really want to encourage you in such a way as though you might never forget it. I would want to let you know how precious and wonderful you are and how much potential you were given in your single pinky finger.
But you know what happened? Someone stole my crazy bullhorn. Or someone crazy stole my bullhorn. In fact, just last week I heard them yelling this through the loud speaker, only made more obnoxious by the sounding of the fog-horn (just to make sure I was tuned in):
“HEY! LISTEN, I REALLY NEED YOU TO SLOW DOWN AND WAKE UP. ACTUALLY, WAKE UP FIRST AND THEN SLOW DOWN THAT WAY WHEN YOU PARK YOUR REAR-END IN THE LAND OF PURPOSELESSNESS AND DEPRESSION, YOU ARE OUT OF MY WAY AND I CAN PASS.
I FEEL IT IS MY CIVIC DUTY TO LET YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT LOOKING AT YOUR REALITY. THIS IS NOT YOUR SEASON. THIS IS NOT YOUR CALLING RIGHT NOW. THIS IS CRAZINESS. HAVEN’T YOU SEEN THE RESPONSIBILITIES YOU HAVE AND THE WORK THE LORD HAS PUT BEFORE YOU NEEDS TO WAIT. SLOW DOWN, NELLY. STOP BURNIN’ THE RUBBER ON MY DRIVEWAY. QUIT CHEWIN’ AT THE BIT TO GET FREE. SOMEDAY, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WALK IN THE WAYS OF THE LORD, BUT RIGHT NOW ALL HIS DIRECTION SIGNS ARE POINTING FOR YOU TO EITHER TURN AROUND OR PULL OVER. DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY. GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU TO GET CARRIED AWAY.”
I want my bullhorn back.
But since I can’t compete with the booming voice of discouragement, I started to think of how God communicated encouragement through the scriptures and I realized, the only way to compete with someone yelling loudly through all creation is to walk up to that individual, touch their elbow gently so they know you are near, and whisper in their ear. “You can do it, sweetie. Come. Follow. I’ll show you the way.”
Which is how Samuel was called. Adam was called. And Elijah heard the voice of God. One on one, no bullhorn required. God’s presence rustled through the foliage in the Garden. It gently broke through the dream-filled sleep of a little boy. It met a man on the top of a mountain.
So whisper to me, please, Lord. And to the hearts of other women. Remind us why we are called your daughters. Remind us of what is true. And while I can do without the bullhorn, feel free to deliver some double chocolate chip and andes mint cookies to my house–it’s the brown colonial on the corner.