“We all need to hear encouragement. We need our strengths to be named and appreciated. On the other hand, friends who never speak what they perceive to be true about our sin or our failures are like tightly wrapped umbrellas that are full of holes: You think you can count on them until the rain begins to fall and you find yourself soaked to the skin. We need to love each other so actively that we speak both words of challenge and words of hope.” – Shelia Walsh
Shelia Walsh’s quote reminds me of a personal situation. A couple years ago, someone very close to me went through a very trying period in life. The situation wasn’t pretty at all and all hope was lost. My heart broke for her as she confided in me. After listening and just being there for her, I finally found some words I hoped would provide some type of comfort. I even sent scriptures she could meditate on. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Simply put, pleasant words give us strength! So I reminded her she:
- Couldn’t give up
- Was stronger than she thought
- Wasn’t alone
- Would get through it with a story to help others
Years later, she’s still standing and stronger after fighting through the adversity she once faced. Fast forward to 2017 – I experienced a trying period myself. Life just seemed extremely hard as I faced some challenges. Guess what I did? I called that same friend as a confidant. She listened as I once did and fed me some of the same encouragement. Better yet, she was living proof of the encouraging words I once fed her.
Looking back at how everything played out, I believe God placed my friend and her situation in my path to prepare me for what was coming in my future. It was easier for me to eat my words and digest what was being spoken to me because of where my heart was when I encouraged her. It’s crazy how I was encouraging myself years before I even experienced this trying period and didn’t even know it. If it weren’t for my friend’s trials it’s possible I would still be stuck. Instead I’ve overcome my trial quicker than expected! To God be the glory!!!
So the next time someone comes your way seeking encouragement ask yourself:
- Am I coming from a place of love so they can receive from me?
- Am I telling them what they want to hear or what they need to hear so they can overcome their situation?
- Am I speaking life to them and their situation?
Don’t be like the tightly wrapped umbrellas Shelia Walsh talks about. Instead, be the friend who challenges and provides hope. The biggest question to ask yourself before you speak is – Are my words edible so they are easy to digest when I have to in the future? If your answer is no, ask God to give you the right words to say!