Courage--noun : mental or moral strength to venture , persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Encourage--transitive verb a : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success> b : to attempt to persuade : urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>
April's Small Steps entries are devoted to Courage; actually; they are Danielle's and my attempts to encourage you (and us) to be courageous. In our family, encouraging is highly encouraged. One of my most quoted Bible verses is "Encourage on another and build each other up!" (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Actually, that's not entirely true. The verse is
 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (RSV)
but--ahem--the "just as you are doing" part doesn't really fit. Because, they are not doing it--not so much. The boys, especially, are given to jostling for postition, asserting their superiority, and tearing their siblings down in the process. It's very disconcerting and not a little disappointing for a mother to witness. I want nothing more than for them to be good to one another, to be each other's staunchest supporters and greatest advocates. I keep reminding myself that they are children and I keep reminding them of the verse.
Sometimes, they nail it. I'll see them sincerely lift one of our own. Most often, it's an older sibling who encourages a younger one. That's the easier, more natural inclination. It does a heart good to witness a big boy say just the right thing to a little one and turn a whole game around for the better. It's endearing to watch big sisters patiently stand by and offer just a little assistance when a little girl insists on dressing or feeding herself. But the truly golden moments, precious and rare, are the ones when the older children encourage each other.
It might be as simple as a look, a shared smile, and understanding pat on the back. Every once in awhile, it's a full-fledged pep talk. And those are the times when I can barely contain myself. I want to shout from the rofftops, "just as you are doing!' Do it again!" But I refrain, because they'd probably think that really weird.
What about God? When He watches us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Does He want to remind us to encourage one another? When we get it right does He wish He could say "Just as you are doing! Do it again!" Actually, He already said it. It's up to us to take it to heart.
It's up to us to pray for the grace and the sensitivity to be genuinely encouraging to one another.
Do we inspire with courage, spirit, or hope? I know I encourage my children; it comes naturally and I've been encouraging since the day they were born. It's compeltely counterintuitive and unnatural to me to be anything but encouraging. But what of the non-kid relationships? We are called to community and in that community, we are called to encourage.
Can I do that?
Can I be courageous and step out of my comfort zone in order to hearten someone else, particularly another woman? The encouraging words that flow so naturally when I look into the face of a child, will they come for my neighbor? Yes, by the grace of God.
And I pray for that grace.
Small Steps focuses on courage this month. Would you share your thoughts with us, let us find you and walk with you? I'd be so grateful and so honored to have you as a companion. Please leave a link to your blog post below and then send your readers back here to see what others have said.You're welcome to post the Small Steps Together banner button also.