Encouragement Hurts

Encouragement hurts.

Maybe you laughed when you read that. Or maybe you scratched your head and said, “Wha—?”

Because “hurt” doesn’t follow our definition of encouragement. Somehow we’ve come to believe that encouragement is to agree with someone. So we tell them they’ll be great at something when, in fact, they’re probably not cut out for the job. We feed their fantasies because that’s what we think they want.

We think we’re being encouraging.
We think we’re being a good friend.

But what we’re really doing is selling each other short.

I think that’s been the main problem in most of my friendships. I get tired of people who claim to be my friends telling me what I want to hear in the moment, only to find that their “supportive” claims are detrimental in the long run. Because they should have known that my gifts weren’t aligning with the shape of my dreams. And they should have been the ones clear-headed enough to see that he really wasn’t that into me.

en·cour·age

a : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : hearten
b : to attempt to persuade : urge

I always needed someone to encourage me by the standard of Mr. Merriam-Webster.

I needed the kind of friend who would try to persuade me. The one who would inspire me with the courage to find a new dream instead of letting me cling to that hope, that chance, that slight possibility that something may come of this.

I needed the kind of friend who would help me pack up and move on when my heart is still longing to linger in a place that was only meant for passing through. The kind of friend who would sit on my over-packed suitcase as she rips the zipper into place.

“Move on, Rebekah,” she would say. “It’s time to move on.”

She would be the kind of friend who would not only take me to the airport, but walk me to security and sit there and wait until she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t go charging back out those doors. Because I would keep walking if I knew she was waiting. I would keep walking and not turn around.

And I might get upset with her for a moment. I might tell her she isn’t helping when really she’s helping more than anyone else ever dared.

Because, while she didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, she gave me what I needed. And I would always much prefer the friend who would give me what I need.

And, deep down, past the part of me that wants to stay here, I know that she’s right. The skies hold brighter things for me. There are uncharted lands that wait to be discovered. And maybe I’ll circle back to this place sometime in the future, but it wasn’t meant to hold me now. There’s no way it could hold me now.

So I’ll sit with my head pressed to the window, watching my dreams fade into clouds.

And, yes, it hurts right now, but it will be so much better in the long run.

In the long run I’ll be thankful for that painful encouragement that sets me free.

watching my dreams fade into clouds

Love Letter to a Dreamer

Hey You,

Yes, You.

I hope you’ve read over the last month of archives and learned a thing or two about dreams. I hope you were encouraged by these women who have fought with dreams… and won. I hope that you, too, learn to be a survivor–the kind of person who would dare to be more than the world believes you could be.

There will be plenty of people who try to shoot you down. The line of people waiting to throw their stones never gets any shorter. So I started a line of my own. I’m in the line of people who say, “Hey You, yes, You… I believe in you. I know that you were made for great things.”

And I’m sorry to say there aren’t too many people in my line. I’m sorry to say that you’ll dodge far more rocks than embrace words made for comforting. And I’m sorry to say that curses may cling to your soul a lot longer than blessings do. The words you will remember are the ones that wounded you; not so much the ones that carried you.

So I‘m begging you to listen closely. Listen very, very closely to these words I’m going to say. And hold these words. Harbor these words. Let these words shape the very core of you.

You are, in a word, potential. Potential, potential, potential. You could go anywhere and do anything–carried away on the wings of a dream. No matter what the world says–no matter how “safe” and “practical” it wants you to be; know that you weren’t made for anything less than your wildest dreams.

So chase them. Chase your dreams wherever they may lead you. And never stop believing in them–no matter how impossible they may seem. Because the impossible dreams are the ones that are made for coming true.

You know what I want for you? I want you to find the purpose for which you are made. I want you to find your dream and run with it. And I want to jump up and down on the sidelines like I’m your biggest fan. Because I am your biggest fan you know.

And I’ll be here the whole time, cheering you on, speaking words of blessing where others throw curses. You musn’t listen to them, you know. They don’t know what they’re saying. They don’t see what I see. They don’t understand that the Maker has gifted each and every one of us and that you were made to shine.

So go ahead, Fragile Bird, spread your wings. Leap from the nest that has cradled you for so long. It’s time you realize that you were made for flying.

And don’t you forget to dream.

Someone Else’s Dream

I got a phone call on Friday morning asking if I could bail a friend out and watch his kids on Saturday. In my mind I knew that there were twenty other things I should probably be doing. The rest of my weekend was completely booked and the only time I had to do all those things that needed to be done was Saturday morning. I probably should have spared myself the chaos and said no, but I didn’t.

And as I was making a dessert for another commitment and writing an article until eleven o’clock at night, I started to wonder why I had over-committed myself. Why was I putting off (or rushing through) all these need-to-do, have-to-do, want-to-do things so I could watch a couple of kids instead? The answer was pretty simple:

I believe in Isaiah’s dream.

You know how you can watch a ballerina dance or a musician play and get the feeling that the person was made for this? That’s how I felt the first time I saw Isaiah do a Wild Earth Encounters presentation.

And here my friend had been handed an amazing opportunity that he could only be part of if someone would watch his kids for a day. I couldn’t say no. Because the only thing more wonderful than chasing after your dreams is giving someone else an opportunity to chase theirs.

So believe in your dreams and pursue them with everything that is within you, but never become so focused on your dreams that you neglect someone else’s. Let your friends know that you believe in their dreams and always be willing to come alongside them and show your support.

Trust me, even on the craziest days you won’t regret it.