This wonderful space. This joyful Friday writing community. I look forward to this each week ... not losing my days in pining, but becoming more giddy in anticipation of the fun to be found in the Thursday night Twitter Party - where hearts meld, women pray, laughter echoes in virtual rooms, and friendships are birthed and nourished because of shared faith and a passion for words. These are the Five Minute Fridays. The prompt goes up from Lisa Jo at midnight on the East coast. We write. We post. We read. We share. We encourage.
This week: Encouragement
There was the time when I curled into the corner of the sanctuary – pressed hard into the wood and spoke with blank eyes and a monotone; sometimes punctuated by a choking sob that would not be denied. In the midst of a job that was breaking me down; in the center of a length of darkness with no light in sight; at the bottom of a well. I was desperate. You held my hand (I know that was outside your comfort zone). You sat with me in the silence and let me cry – your presence holding me up. You murmured a prayer; petitioning heaven on my behalf. You asked for grace, mercy, and strength.
There was the time we finally made it to happy hour – sipping sweet, spicy cocktails and nibbling on delectable goodies. Oh, to finally let our hair down and catch up. How did this happen – this connection forged in 80s bands, Tom Cruise movies, and deeper things. We shared about our families, about our daughters, about our day-to-day lives. The similarities we share allow us a unique insight as we battle some of the same demons; fight some of the same wars; wrestle with some of the same adversaries. Dry wit and sarcasm allows us to find humor in the things that might frighten others. And beneath all this runs the gleaming thread of faith and commitment to see God’s work carried out here on this earth: to meet the needs of the least of these.
There was the time we sat in the restaurant – unchanged since my college years. Red vinyl seats still scratchy and intermittently patched with duct tape. I sat straight-backed; a determined smile on my face. You both looked at me, and in the face of that sincerity, my determination crumbled and real life leaked through. Frustrations with my long desert journey and questions about my marriage bubbled up – all filtered through fear of being judged imperfect and a failure again. Your warm hands wrapped around mine said no such thing. You shared similar journeys, similar struggles, and similar desperate prayers. And then you prayed for me. Not desperately, but deeply, sincerely, and fervently.
There was the time we sat in Borders (ah, Borders!) for five hours. Or was it longer? Books, notebooks, and water bottles piled around us. We told stories I didn’t know we could still tell – things that have remained undiscovered after a lifetime together. We spoke of organization, gardening, crafts, and upcoming meals. You counseled me, as you continue to do, on how to be a better mother. I may have offered advice on how to be a better SciFi fan. Our lives are wound around these visits – the ones that have taken place in bookstores, and coffee shops, and treatment rooms. Living and breathing the joys and pains as they come. Shared as only sisters of the heart can.
Four situations. Five different women. This is what I've known.
She is right. There is nothing easy about encouragement. It is not simply pleasant platitudes – tossed out to put a band aid on an ache or a hurt. Not how I’ve known it, at any rate. Encouragement is heartfelt and hard won; coming in the midst of battles and hard times (as well as in the good) – anchored in the Word of God – reminding me of joy eternal when happiness has fled the scene. Encouragement looks past the immediate emotion of “feel good now” and says, “How can I invest in your life now and in the future?” and “How can I remind you of the grace, and peace, and strength you have because of what Christ has done for you?”
Be encouraged, friend. Be encouraged.
How to Join
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!