I would have to say that what encourages me is community. Intimate community. Knowing and being known. Because I seek to be genuine, lacking pretense, in my life and in my relationships, I value the intimate community of kindred spirits.
A guest pastor at our church this past weekend preached about community. He had some wonderful insights that I will try to paraphrase.
He said: “Intimacy is a language of commitment, where we move toward each other willing to risk our own hearts. There is no guarantee of acceptance or of being loved well in return. The security and ability we have to move toward others is founded on the gospel truth found in Christ. God does not relent in his pursuit, he is slow to anger and abounding in love.”
Very many people, very many women that I know, are unwilling to move toward other people and be vulnerable because they have been deeply hurt before, harbor deep shame, have low self worth, and have a huge fear of rejection. I have to admit that I felt that way for a very, very long time. I kept searching for intimacy with men, and had few women I could share deeply with. Through a long and winding journey, I discovered the power and strength and comfort found in having an intimate communion with God. I also discovered that the community I could have with women who would be reciprocal in their sharing was so much sweeter and more encouraging that I ever could have imagined.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
In my everyday life, I am blessed to have friends with whom I can be transparent. They accept me in any mood: I can rant, I can be snarky, I can cry, I can scream, I can laugh at and laugh with. The ones with whom I can be the most transparent, who will also build me up, share wisdom, help me discern God’s will in a situation..they are the core of my support system, and the source of my encouragement.
I am enjoying Twitter as well as my first foray into the blogosphere for the variety of women I find, and am developing a support network there as well. Women are willing to be real, to share their struggles honestly and are searching for that same deep connection with other women that I am. I am thrilled to be finding kindred spirits that without the assistance of technology, I might never have found.
What encourages you? Who are your encouragers?
I want to share with you a place where you might just find some new encouragers!
A brand new website, (in)courage, just went live on August 10th. I have been eagerly anticipating its debut, because some of my favorite bloggers and MomTV.com hosts are a part the writing team! They debuted themselves as contributors one by one in a series of blog posts, and it was so fun to follow the journey! Its primary purpose seems to provide a place for Christian women to come together and encourage and be encouraged in a myriad of ways. I am thrilled to become a part of it from the beginning, and I hope you’ll come and join us!