Ever get tired of normal life stuff?
Like traffic, mosquitoes, world hunger, cancer… it just wears you out?
Right now, I’m tired of people dying.
Sorry. That may be a little much for your morning but it is what it is.
Rachel Evans died unexpectedly this week. She was a well-loved author and speaker who challenged a lot of Christian ideas. I have to be honest, though, and tell you that I never read any of her books. But the community I follow was very involved with her. And I’m watching all of them grieve and live their days in shock. And I just hate it.
I hate how unexpected it all was and thinking about how her family will have to move forward without her. I hate how every death involuntarily reopens the wound of loss in my own life.
But. There are beautiful parts. My social media world is flooded with authors I follow and friends I’ve known who are writing paragraphs on how this girl changed their lives. I’ve read about how she’s challenged people in their faith and how she’s stood by her friends.
Throughout the past two years, I’ve experienced more loss than I would have chosen. And every time, I’ve been fascinated by how well we can find the best in people once they’re gone. We use all of our words to say the perfect thing. We want to honor them well. We find their best qualities. We evaluate their presence and their influence in our lives. And we say it. We kill ourselves making sure we say the exact right thing.
I’ve been so challenged lately not to wait. I don’t want to wait until they aren’t here anymore to speak out the massive difference they’ve made in my life. I’m afraid we hold back because of several things:
We definitely take for granted what’s in front of us.
We don’t think it’s necessary.
We think it’s too much.
And sometimes, it just feels awkward.
But whether we realize it or not, holding back our words of life chokes us – and it chokes them. It’s meant to come out. The things we see in others, the gratitude we feel for our people: it’s meant to be said.
“Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits.” [Proverbs 16:24]
Don’t wait. Don’t wait to use your most creative words to speak well of someone. Don’t wait to thank your village; publicly or privately. Build up your babysitter, your pastor, your neighbor, your aunt, the older woman who’s always been there for you. Post a quote from the book that’s changing your life, and tell your friends about it. They probably need to read it, too! Tell your husband that he matters. Tell your mom that she’s appreciated. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. You don’t have to write a five page letter (although who doesn’t love those?) Send a text right now. Post a picture on Instagram and tell your world, “My life is better because of you.”
“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.” [Hebrews 10:24]
Have you believed the lie that you’re just not very good at it? You’ve convinced yourself that other people are just good at words, and you’re not, so why bother? Hey, it’s not true. God has literally created us to encourage. When he molded us and gifted us with language, He imagined us using them to change others’ lives. If we don’t lean into this opportunity, we risk regret and the heaviness that comes with holding onto our words of life. They are meant to come out of us.
Jen Hatmaker says it this way in Of Mess and Moxie: “I am so convinced that we reap what we sow here; sow seeds of affirmation and goodness and grace into others, and you will reap the devotion of well-loved friends. You will. You cannot love others genuinely and generously and have it return void for long… We have so much say-so in our own relational experience. Be the friend you’d love to have, call to the deep, and you will attract the treasured kind of friends like sunlight, like a lightning rod, like honey.”
Look for the good and say it. Now.
Look for ways to honor them, publicly and privately. Now.
Remind them that they are your people, that your life would never be the same without them. Now.
Speak over them the things that you see that they can’t see themselves. The God-parts in them that the have a hard time believing. Now.
And then watch. Watch as God takes the power behind your words and molds it, shapes it into identity and purpose. The life-giving words you speak align with His will in their lives and then suddenly, you’re a part of their life story. You get the privilege of reminding them who God says that they are, and that they matter. Don’t miss out.
“Fangirl Jesus, and fangirl your friends… Fangirl the flesh and blood around you, the ones you live by, live with, live for. Go gaga over your own people; that is well-placed loyalty. Overvalue them, over-love them, over-encourage them.” – Jen Hatmaker, Of Mess and Moxie