Lifting up others in a painful world
In a catty society that encourages judgment and vengeance, it’s difficult to see others as God sees them: beautiful. Although criticizing people has become a social norm, it’s not what we were created to do. In fact, we’re meant to encourage those around us, which means helping them recognize their value.
Nearly everyone has been criticized at some point, even the people in your life. However, what they really need is encouragement.
Whether you have a friend who needs cheering up, or you simply want to make her feel special for no reason, here are some practical ways you can be encouraging:
Your friend may feel most encouraged when she receives gifts. Encouraging her with gifts doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you don’t have to buy anything at all. She’ll appreciate the gesture of giving and the thought put into the gift because it shows you care. Some inexpensive ways to encourage your girlfriend are to pick flowers, to bake cookies or to deliver chocolates and her favorite movie. Even a picture message of something that reminds you of her will show that you’re thinking about her. Ultimately, it’s not the size, shape or price of the gifts that matters, it’s your generous heart behind the gifts that will encourage your friend.
Regardless of the person, quality time is always a good way to show you care. Taking the time to simply be with your pal and hear what she has to say, or speaking words of encouragement will mean the world to her. Sometimes, it might be good to do something with her, or go somewhere adventurous. However, it’s the quality of the time, not the quantity of the time that’s key. Some ideas of how you might encourage her by spending time together are to go to a coffee shop to talk, to go for a long walk in the park or to walk around your neighborhood. No matter what location you’re in, it’s your presence and a listening ear that will let your friend know you cherish her.
Words of Truth
Words are likely the most used, and the most misused form of encouragement. They’re powerful – God spoke the Earth into motion with words. Using words is a great way to encourage your friend, but it’s also important to make sure they’re genuine. Think about the things you like best about your friend, and give her genuine compliments. You can encourage your friend by writing her notes, sending her text messages or talking to her on the phone. One of the best ways to verbally encourage your friend is to pray for her – thank God for what she means in your life and ask Him to grow her relationship with Him. If she’s willing, pray for her while you’re together. This will encourage you, but it’ll also illustrate how deeply God cares for her.
A Touch of Comfort
Hugging your friend when you meet can make her day. If your friend needs a lot of physical affection, you might want to hold her hand, play with her hair or offer a back rub. Although this may seem a little odd, showing sisterly affection can nurture her spirit in a way that nothing else can, and these gestures will show her how much her friendship means to you.
Another great way to care for your friend is to serve her. Serving your friend means to do things for her simply because you have the desire. Help her with her upcoming school project. If she has chores to do, help her complete them. Offer to cook dinner for her. The key is to do everything with a selfless heart because it’s your generosity that will encourage her the most.
The world can be a hurtful place, but as followers of God, we’re supposed to encourage one another. We were created to need encouragement and love. Even when we don’t know what to say, it’s ultimately God’s work in our lives that allows us to encourage our friends – it’s through His strength and guidance that we’re able to be a light in the world. Every day, we have the opportunity to lift up the people in our lives and remind them of their worth.