Happy weekend, dear gal! Have you resumed your “normal life” after the holidays? Or are you, like me, putting away Christmas decorations today? Other than needing to put away the few decorations I have out, I feel like I’ve eagerly moved into the new year. And honestly, part of the reason I feel ready to face 2020 with courage and strength is because I received so much encouragement this past week from my readers. That’s why I thought we’d talk about the inner beauty of encouragement today.
What does it mean to encourage?
My favorite definition of encouragement is the simplest one: to infuse with courage. I love that definition because it reminds me that encouragement is not just about offering a few kind words or a fist pump. When we encourage someone we fortify them for a hard task, a difficult role or a new challenge. We strengthen them to move on when they’d rather quit.
I love looking out over the nearby Ohio River. It’s peaceful and wide and lovely. But the real beauty of that body of water is that it supplies power for electricity and moves barges and boats from one location to another. In the same way, a woman who helps supply courage, strength and stamina to other people is powerfully beautiful.
Encouragement is similar to its cousin gratitude in that we tend to crave encouragement from others much more than we are prone to give it out. Would you agree? But if we want to cultivate an inner beauty that outshines our aging exteriors, we will become women who freely and frequently encourage others.
Who needs encouragement?
My husband recently asked the people in our church congregation, “Who needs to be encouraged?” James then asked everyone to raise their hands if they were breathing. Of course everyone raised their hands. Every living soul needs encouragement!
Truthfully, every single person you encounter today needs to be infused with courage for something. Your husband, your mother, your son, your friend, your waiter, the ticket taker, the sales clerk, your pastor, your neighbor… First, we need to begin to see everyone we pass as someone who needs a boost, a hand up, a word of courage.
Besides, encouragement is something you never really overdose on. Right? We can never give too much encouragement to someone. Even the woman who looks like she has it all together and is doing splendidly needs a little more encouragement.
How can you and I encourage someone?
Obviously kind and reassuring words can give courage and renewed determination to someone who lacks it. But other times encouragement requires no words at all. We can encourage simply with our presence, with a touch or an embrace.
Here are some ways we could encourage someone this week:
- Show up for her “hard day” e.g., in the courtroom, the funeral home, the waiting room, the hospital.
- Send a note filled with courage infusing words. Try not to write just sweet sentiments, but instead write a note that gives a gentle push in the right direction (without sounding bossy, of course).
- Go with him to do the hard thing e.g., apply for a job, see the doctor, have a test run, confront someone.
- Listen to her vent. Sometimes just fully engaging while someone vents their frustrations is enough to empty them of fear and fill them up again with resolve. Simply say, “I hear you,” when you don’t know what else to say. Feeling heard can fill us with renewed courage.
- Share your story. Be careful here. I have to remember it’s not about me, when I choose to encourage through my own experiences. But sometimes sharing our own personal struggle and how we overcame or endured can encourage someone else to do the same. If I can share in a way that doesn’t make me the hero, but simply the fellow sojourner, my story will resonate more with the one who’s struggling.
- Pray with him. Right then and there. Sure, promises of prayer are somewhat encouraging. But hearing someone voice a petition to God on your behalf fills you with renewed resolve like nothing else.
- Remind her of the gifts and abilities you see in her. Sometimes we just need to know that someone else sees in us the thing we’d begun to doubt that we had. Maybe that thing is intelligence, strength, skill, love, a calling or boldness.
- Recast his vision. If he’s lost his way or begun to doubt his future, you may need to help him re-imagine it. Give some hope and assure him that you still see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Put the past in perspective. Sometimes we need encouragement to face tomorrow because the past is weighing us down. Whether guilt, grief, regret or loss is pulling her back, you can gently remind her that she has a future. But go easy here. The past’s grip can be strong and we must be patient with one who is hurting from it’s wounds.
Can you think of other ways we can encourage someone this week? More importantly can you think of someone to whom you could offer some real encouragement? You probably have no idea how much your simple words or act of encouragement could mean to him or her.
On Wednesday I shared where I’d be taking Dressed for My Day this next year. I literally woke up that morning feeling nervous and fearful. I knew the post had gone live during the night, and I feared that I was losing subscribers even as I poured my coffee. Instead, I was met with over 35 comments filled with assurance, affirmation and sweet encouragement. Later I even received emails from readers. You have no idea how those words and expressions of affirmation filled me with courage to press on. I’m overwhelmed. And I’m encouraged. (By the way, I did lose a few subscribers from that post. But in the end the encouragement you gave me helped me balance out the losses and move on.)
You are probably already a woman who encourages others. Bless you. Your gentle, kind and persistent encouragement makes you a beautiful woman. Thank you for encouraging me.
20 thoughts on “The Inner Beauty of Encouragement”
Our 23 year old grandson lost his battle with mental illness and depression and took his life three days before Christmas. I’m not sure what normal feels like anymore. I do know it is faith that is getting us through. I’ve unfollowed several fashion bloggers as all I want right now is black. It doesn’t feel right to focus on clothes or things. I continue to follow you because you are a sister in Christ and your words encourage me. This post is exactly what I needed this morning.
Kate, my heart breaks for you. I have no words except I am praying now and will continue. Yes, I agree as well that I follow Kay’s blog because she is a sister in Christ and her words have encouraged me especially through a few rough patches in my life because of her Blessed For My Day section and I thoroughly enjoy her Saturday posts. ~Lisa~
Oh my. Kate, I am so very sorry. That has got to be one of the hardest things to endure ever. And I know you love your grandson deeply, and the loss is huge. Bless your heart. You have my compassion. And I am pausing right now to pray for you and your family. May God provide every grace you and yours need as you live through this loss and grief. And may something good somehow come of the ashes. Please be patient with yourself. Grief takes a long time. And it’s surely very fresh right now. I know that one day your joy will be restored, but right now I pray for you simply to have hope.
Oh dear Kate, I can’t imagine the pain that you are suffering. My prayer is that the good Lord will help you and guide you during this most difficult time.
Happy Saturday to you Kay……oh how it feels so good to get my house “somewhat” back in order. I called my younger son this morning to give him an “encouragement pep talk” and then your encouragement post pops up in my inbox. It was like confirmation to me. (Thank you) Enjoy the rest of your weekend. ~Lisa~
Kay, I absolutely love you and everything you stand for on your blog. I have been feeling so many of the same things you mentioned. I have found myself becoming so focused on fashion blogs – they seem to create a desire in me to covet more and more clothing that I do not really need. I have felt God’s voice telling me that I need to focus less on acquiring things and more on being a good steward of all He has given me. I will continue to look forward to your posts in the coming year. Thank you for your encouragement and for helping me stay focused on what TRULY matters – God and loving others. You are a true blessing to me!
Julie, you have voiced my feelings exactly…being a good steward of what I have!
And thank you Kay for your spiritual emphasis especially in the Saturday posts!
Thank you, Kay, for sharing your ideas on how we can encourage the people in our lives.
Hi! I hadn’t read your Wednesday post so I went back and read it. I love the direction you’re headed in and am excited to see your new content! I am at a point where I love my wardrobe. I am saturated with clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, etc. and am not very interested in continuing to add more and more. I would prefer finding new ways to combine and enjoy what I already have. I stopped subscribing to fashion magazines a while ago because I found they just weren’t relevant to me. I have enjoyed discovering blogs and appreciate the more practical advice offered. I appreciate what you do and will continue to support you and cheer you on. I am a recent subscriber & find yours is a blog I look forward to reading more than most. Thank you!
Amen!!! Kim….I will the same exact way. ~Lisa~
I love the direction that you’re going with your blog! I’m a the place in my life where I need more simplicity so that I can see the important things in life such as God, family and serving others. Your blog encourages that and I love it. Thank you!
As we dive into 2020…. Let me say that the courage you exhibit by following your heart in a direction that has conviction for you is impressive. Reading your blog is always enjoyable and uplifting for me (the reader). Thank you!
The New Year – A New Start! Let’s embrace it, challenge it and Love it!
I enjoyed your post today and re-read your post from Wednesday, which impressed me the first time I read it. I especially appreciate your comments on slow v. fast fashion. Over the last several years, I needed new clothes because of retirement and weight changes. But I haven’t slowed down enough to keep my closet from now being overstuffed! It’s actually harder to put outfits together because I can’t easily see or keep track of everything.
I’ve been thinking the problem is made worse by internet shopping, which I do regularly because I moved an hour away from most stores. The good part is there are so many choices, but the bad part is I get multiple ads and sales notifications on a daily basis, which keeps shopping too much on my mind. So I welcome your new direction!
This might help your bottom line: could you explain if there is a way to access featured items by store later? I was sure I’d first seen a sale item on your post, but I couldn’t find the original post to link. Maybe that could be one of the functionality issues that could help you. I hope you still do try-ons. I like seeing what is new and how the clothes fit a real person, not a waif. I’m looking forward to the changes!
Hi Suzy. Yes, I’ll definitely still do try-ons. Really, the changes will be subtle at first. You can always just enter the retail site through my store listings. You’ll find my links to most of the retailers I feature in the sidebar if you’re on a computer. Or if you’re on a mobile device those listings will be toward the bottom of the blog page. Thanks for being willing to help support what I do here.
Kay, thank you for this post. Many times people have given me a hand up with a word, a smile, or a scripture verse; this has made all the difference. Everyone we meet needs TLC.
Thank you for you blog. I have learned a great deal.
Kate, you and your family will be in my prayers. I am so sorry. May the God of all comfort give you peace.
Oops, I meant “your blog “not you blog.
You are such a huge encouragement to me. I did not post on Wednesday because it seemed like everyone posted, but you handled the new direction so gracefully and have helped me to look at my own life in a different light. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and encouraging us your readers to be vulnerable also. I thank God for you and your refreshing posts and appreciate the focus on being a godly woman.
Kay, I didn’t get a chance to comment on the direction you’re taking your blog in 2020, but I am on board 100%! I love what you write about. I learn so much from you. I’ve said before, I EAGERLY look forward to “blessed for my day” each day (love the fashion too, of course!). Your kind and gentle nature is so refreshing and ENCOURAGING ;-). I value what you have to say and am so very grateful for having found you!
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Jennifer. I really appreciate hearing from so many readers. Blessings!
I, too, appreciate the direction your blog is taking. I love and appreciate so much the meaningful thoughts in Blessed for My Day.