I love to mentor, disciple and help women.
They are unique and amazing.
Soft and strong.
Smart and capable.
But, it is the grace of God that I am in the God-given role of being an Encourager.
It has not always been so.
Years ago, I was in my late twenties and attending a small church that I loved so much. I was surrounded by older ladies who were gentle and humble and who loved me unconditionally. But, I was broken. All broken. The only example of womanhood in my life until that point was a woman full of bitterness and anger. She poured cruelty out like water coming out of a firehose. I left that home and my promise was that I would be nothing like her.
But, when we promise things in our own power, we are sure to fail.
I became much like her. Bitter as a wife and a sad momma. Envious of other women who seemed content. Confused about joy and happiness. I was a mess.
That mess came out in my relationships with ladies my age; other wives and mommas. I felt a desperate need to look better than them and be better than them. I compared myself to them and the way they cooked, cleaned, disciplined, worshipped. This led to an inability to make and retain friends because I was constantly discontented with myself and those ladies. I was not an encourager of women; I was a discourager.
But God changes us.
If you are struggling with friendship and sisterhood and find yourself at the end of broken relationships often; take heart. God changes us.
So, how did I become an encourager instead of a discourager? Well, the simple answer and true answer is my Bible and prayer. But, how does that practically change a person?
This is a commandment in the Bible and in my church was an older lady who took it seriously.
She was in her eighties.
I was in my twenties.
She was serving the Lord with passion.
I was lukewarm.
She was loving her husband and other women well.
I was miserable going through the motions.
She took me under her wing. I started going to her home weekly; sometimes more. I watched her with her husband, with her adult children, with other women. I watched her be meek and submissive to Jesus and her husband.
And I cried.
How, how, how was I ever going to get there? I confessed my shortcomings to her. She cried and prayed with me. We read our Bibles together weekly. Often, she would call me and read with me by phone. We would talk of Jesus and his love for hours. She loved me with kindness and slowly God started to heal all that had been broken. I found myself speaking differently; acting differently. I was not nearly as concerned with being better than anybody else as I was with loving others (1 John 4:7). Juanita taught me that.
The strangest thing started to happen. Women started to gravitate towards me. I became an encourager of women as opposed to damage to women.
I had been…
encouraged and so I started encouraging.
loved and so I started loving.
helped and served and so I started helping and serving.
I found myself…
cleaning houses for ladies who were overwhelmed with children and doing stuff or for widows who could not do it for themselves.
holding women whose husbands were unkind and unloving and encouraging them to trust that Jesus was sufficient and could change their circumstances but, more importantly, could keep them in the circumstances they were in.
speaking to addicted women who had been battling for sobriety for years when I had never been addicted to drugs or alcohol in my life.
praying for women who I truly loved and yearned for God’s best for their lives.
I found myself an encourager and not a discourager. Praise God. He truly changes us. He truly moves by his Spirit and changes us.
There are two things I want you to take away from this.
First, signs that you are a discourager and not an encourager.
I don’t say this to discourage you but to help you take steps towards freedom. I did not start to heal and change until I KNEW I needed to. As soon, as Juanita helped me see my hard heart, I was able to beg God to change me. And HE answered. So, recognition of a discouraging spirit is important.
Read this. See if you identify at all. Do you…
- Compare yourself to other women and always come out on top you compare yourself to other women and feel angry because they have it so much better than you?
- Find fault with other women even when you don’t say it out loud?
- Criticize and judge the behavior or heart attitudes of other women without actually talking to them or knowing their motives?
- Engage in corrective action as a habit without actually knowing the women you are correcting? This happens on Facebook often.
- Say you are happy with your life even when you are not?
- Overemphasize how great your life is to compensate for how sad you feel?
The hope for this is Jesus.
He is sufficient to heal the brokenness that causes the responses and heart attitudes described above. He is the only hope, as he changed me, he gave me a new heart and a new attitude. That new heart and attitude were accompanied by new actions. James said not to be only a hearer of the Word but a doer also. God will never change you on the inside without changing you on the outside too. He is faithful. So, he gave me a new heart that had learned how to practically encourage women.
Second, here are some of the practical ways I started to do that, by God’s grace.
- I started looking for need and addressing it. So, who was overwhelmed and what could I do to address it. Meals, bathroom cleaning, kitchen cleaning. Taking the kids for a bit. Maybe taking them on a shopping trip because they never were able to do that.
- I started reaching out as Juanita did to me. I asked women to read the Bible with me. We read at the park so our kids could play or during naptime. We read in the late evening by phone. I learned how to study my Bible during this time.
- I started praying for the women God put in my path. Women at church, at Walmart, in my kid’s school. Any woman in my path.
- I started studying the women of the Bible to see how God used them and how he helped them and how he protected and loved them, praying to be a doer and not a hearer only.
- I started using technology to bring glory to God. At this present time, I send about forty texts a week to encourage women. Bible verses, prayers, texts of love and encouragement. I pray for God to give me words to truly help and love them.
- I stopped criticizing and started loving. Seeing the brokenness, now I pray about it and see how I can help instead of how I can hurt.
- I stopped comparing. Comparison is death to women. It is death. Don’t do it. If you find yourself doing it; confess your sin and repent Ask God to change you.
And the last thing, I must say on a blog for encouraging other women is please please please don’t gossip in the name of helping other women. It tears down and it harms. I have been so guilty of this and it has done more damage than I could ever fix.
Thank you, God, for the grace that forgives me and changes me.
When you speak of other women…
Let it be edifying.
Seasoned with grace and kindness.
Let it cause them to shine before their husbands and children and other women.
Let your speech define you as a God-loving Christian lady who loves other ladies.
This is the most encouraging thing you can do for other ladies.
God is good. He is strong. He changed me. If you are struggling in this area, he can change you.
If you liked this post or it help you in some way, please share it! There are other women out there who need to read it too!
Check out these other great posts on encouraging your husband and children. And stay tuned for a book review on Adorned, Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.