Growing strong together
Can I say that even though we have never met, and likely never will, that I am proud to be identified with you? Yes, you. Would it sound too personal to mention that I am privileged to be associated with you? A complete stranger, perhaps. And would it come across as naive or even foolish to add that I know you are going to make a big difference with your life?
Yes, this world will be different – better – because you were here. When you leave this old world there will be a sense of loss. Do you believe that?
It may not mean much for you to hear some guy on the Internet say this. Understandable so. Somebody much more significant in your life should really be saying these words. But if you haven’t heard them for a while, or if you haven’t really been listening when they came, here they are again: “You matter. Your life matters. You have potential. God made you for a purpose. There is something important for you to do while you are here. Try to gain a glimpse of what that might be. Work at it. Find your place. Live your life. Let it shine!”
Please imagine spectacular fireworks going off in the background, beautiful explosions of light that would put July 1st or July 4th – or whenever you celebrate your national holiday to shame, as a way of echoing these words and adding emphasis. Let this moment sink into your memory.
Whatever difficulties you may be facing today, don’t forget to be encouraged. And don’t forget to make good use of the gift of life. I hope a few of these words will help towards that end.
Words can help.
But you know, it is the easiest thing in the world to use words in ways that are not particularly helpful. Sad to say, but it is sometimes much easier for me to be encouraging and affirming sitting in front of this computer than it is in “real” life. Maybe you can relate. Have you ever been grouchy, grumbling at your family all evening, when the phone rings? And suddenly…you find yourself taking an entirely different tone. You sound like a completely different person – cheery and bright. Quite different from the one who just moments ago was adding some gloom to the room. It happens. Been there. Done that.
All too often words flow out of us that we should be keeping in, and potentially empowering words stay in out hearts and minds that really should be getting out.
No, people shouldn’t merely be affirmed and always encouraged to believe in themselves. Much more is needed than that. But many people desperately need to gain back a bit of dignity and personal confidence. Keep in mind that there is big difference between flattery and healthy affirmation. An occasional positive word is needed in part to counter all the random condemnation that seems to be present almost everywhere. To bring back some balance. Authentic positive words are needed. Much needed.
Your kind words can help point someone towards their true potential. Think of that. Maybe even today. It could happen.
But there is a risk involved. A potentially personal threat. I am reminded of Erma Bombeck’s famous prayer: “Lord, if you can’t make me thin, please make my friends fat!” That says it all. Hey, at least she was honest. Most of us would likely much prefer to come across as a little smarter, or stronger, or better looking, or better off, or more stylish, or more connected, or more sophisticated, or more successful, etc. than the people around us. In a twisted sort of way it makes us feel good about ourselves.
Come on. Be honest. You never play the rating game? Really? I am afraid that I have.
Trying to feel good about ourselves by routinely putting others down is a well-established human pastime. People compare cultures and countries and families and communities and companies and churches and everything else. See who is the best. Or even slightly better. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it often does. It is the way of the world.
Why would we want others to excel when their growth and success might make us look bad? That would be terrible: a crushing blow to our insecure identities. As well, their success might be a threat to our own success. It is a competitive world, you know. But is this really the way it has to be? Does this “I-am-better-than-you-because” mindset have to be passed on to each new generation until the end of time? Why can’t there be a bit more cooperation mixed into daily life? Why?
Why can’t we encourage each other a little more? Why can’t we all take steps to reach our God-given potential together?
© Career & Life Direction 2012. All rights reserved