This morning I woke up and immediately sensed the weight of discouragement pulling on my soul like an anchor sinking in the depths of a bottomless ocean. I knew why: the day before I had been working on some writing and, initially, had felt so confident about where I was heading. But every time I sat down to put words to the page, I got stuck. The words just wouldn’t come.
One, two, three drafts I attempted. One, two, three times I failed.
My deadline loomed and I had nothing to show for a day’s worth of work. I started to question why they’d asked me to do this in the first place.
My feet hadn’t even reached the floor before the voices of insignificance, inadequacy, doubt, and failure clamored around in my heart driving my discouragement deeper, deeper, deeper. I just felt so out of practice in the spaces God and others were inviting me into; so acutely insufficient for the tasks in front of me.
I took a deep breath, dragged my feet down the stairs and started the coffee, desperately aware of my need for some caffeine to kick start my day. Even more so, for some private time with the Lord in hopes that He would address the gravity of what I felt inside.
I picked up my journal and read through my notes from the previous day. Already, He was reminding me of things I needed to hear.
I prayed. I read. I listened. I waited.
Eventually my spirits lifted a little, but still, I just couldn’t shake the heaviness. So I texted a few girlfriends and asked for their prayers.
Not long after, my phone screen became a perpetual light display as text after text came in, each full of encouraging words, Scripture, prayers, and affirmations of belief and faith in the person God had uniquely made me to be. Almost immediately, I noticed the increased buoyancy in my spirit, and I felt a new strength to step through those open doors.
~ ~ ~
I’m a bit of a Bible-word nerd. For me, original language studies often provide increased depth and richness to glaringly familiar words. So I decided to do a quick word study on encouragement. What I found inspired me.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew words most often used for encouragement are similarly understood to mean to be made stronger, to give courage or to prevail against obstacles or difficulties.
On the other hand, the New Testament words for encouragement conjure up images of comfort, even adopting the same root word used to describe the Holy Spirit, our Comforter. Here, the idea is an invitation to draw near and to refresh one’s spirit.
As I considered these expanded definitions in light of my morning’s struggle, the weight of their truth resonated. And I was reminded of the significant opportunity we have as sisters: to empower one another to become the women God created us to be, and to strengthen each other to lead boldly every place He sets our feet.
~ ~ ~
Sometimes, we need a sister to speak words over us to give us courage to step into something new, to push through something hard, or to remind us that in our weaknesses God supplies fresh strength.
Other times, our souls desperately need comfort and refreshing. As we invite our sisters into our need, we give them space to be an extension of the very presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Through the intentional encouragement of friends today, I was reminded of how vital it is to our well-being to walk through life in the company of sisters. God alone is the unrivaled source of all we need, but He has given us one another to be tangible expressions of His nature, conduits of His strength and comfort to one another.
Who do you know that could benefit from your sister strength and comfort today? You might just be the answer to her prayers.
Molly Urso is wife to her best friend, Tre, and mom to Ashley and Abigail. She has an MA in Counseling from Denver Seminary and is currently working on her second Masters degree in Christian Formation and Soul Care. Molly is passionately committed to caring for Christian women in leadership through discipleship and on-going soul-care to ensure spiritual vitality and calling sustainability. Above all, Molly would tell you she is a daughter who is daily learning to simply be loved by her Father. His immeasurable kindness and deep delight, despite her many flaws, daily teach her to rest in the knowledge she is enough simply because she is His.
Connect with Molly on Instagram.
Yes, yes, Molly! Thank you for unpacking this definition of encouragement – “to be made stronger, to give courage or to prevail against obstacles or difficulties”. It is a gift to sow words or acts of encouragement to others. I find the more I encourage, I’m never experience a lack of encouragement when I need it.
So true, Kendra! This reminds me of what I heard you say recently about generosity, how when you give generously, it comes back to you in unexpected ways. Of course, this idea is rooted in Jesus’ promises. How very inspiring to see it lived out in the Sisterhood.
Wow! You read my mind. This is exactly how I feel when i sit down to write. I am completely sure I am in the middle of my mission field writing to young women, yet the whispers of inadequacy ring in my ears all too often.
Thank you for this beautiful post and the encouragement