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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Encouraging The Encourager

I'd like to think of myself as an encourager. I really like thinking positively. It's very easy for me to do for you, but it can be a chore sometimes to think positively for myself. But I've really been working on that. Things don't always go the way I'd like them to, but I still know I'm blessed. I have many things for which to be thankful, even on bad days.

I've been writing about joy. I've been writing about being strong and courageous. I've been writing about daring to leave the comfort of the familiar for the unknown treasures of faith. I believe all those things passionately. But the other night, I was feeling a bit discouraged. I found myself frustrated about something which is still an area of vulnerability in my heart. 

Late that night, just before going to bed, I posted on my Facebook page that I was feeling a bit down. I even shared that it's sometimes a significant challenge to practice what you preach. Crossing Paths is undergoing some significant growth in terms of audience in recent weeks. Because of this, I have a more significant responsibility to walk the talk. If I'm going to talk about faith, joy, courage, strength and such, I can pretty much guarantee I'm going to soon face challenges in those very topics. That's just the way it works in ministry. It's not enough to say these things. You have to live them.

I had a very special experience when I dared to be honest about my feelings of discouragement on Facebook. I was hesitant to admit that despite trying to be Mr. Encourager, I sometimes need to be encouraged. But when I woke up the following morning after my late night "confession", I found these messages waiting for me from friends:
  •  "The good thing about living in Christ is we don't do this alone! Hang strong in Him!"
  •  "You are hereby granted grace and mercy, Corey, so that you don't have to struggle to 'practice what you preach', but can rest in the security of your relationship...knowing that you are loved and accepted regardless of ability to perform. then, out of that love and peace and rest, you will find the strength to succeed."
  • "I know what you mean my friend, dealing with problems and problem people can suck the life out of your joy. It is so easy to fill the void with anger and frustration. I believe that is why God surrounds us with good people and his love. With His and their support we will get out of the valleys. Stay strong and in faith, and joy will come to you. Have a blessed day!" 
  • "Matching Calamity and Serenity is only acheived through belief that I will be taken care of . NO MATTER WHAT..."
  • "I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that
    all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12:46 (New Living Translation)"
  • "This too shall pass... Hang in there!"
  • "I definitely can empathize with you, Corey. When I feel that way, I keep chanting that famous phrase from Psalm 30:5 - "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy cometh in the morning." I pray that a sunny morning comes your way soon."
Most of the friends who rallied to offer me encouragement are people I haven't seen in over 20 years. With the exception of two of the encouragers, who are brothers, these people don't even know each other. These messages came from people I really didn't expect. It was a real blessing to find these messages. They were special because they weren't the tried and true boilerplate responses. I found myself strengthened and lifted up with each message.

I have always said that I think you can tell a lot about a person by the quality of friends in their lives. I can honestly say that I have had the blessing of knowing some truly incredible people in my life, and I'm humbled. They have definitely raised my game. 

Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful blessing and necessity of great friends. If we're not yet friends, please feel free to add me as your friend on Facebook. As iron sharpens iron, we can work together to bring out our very best. 

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