The World Belongs To The Encourager
I waited anxiously in the Colorado Springs airport. Her smile lit up my soul when we made eye contact as we spotted each other in the crowded little airport. It felt good to have my big sister come and visit me for the weekend. I had the sudden urge to invite her out to stay with me and enjoy some time hanging out with each other.
I had a fun weekend planned. We would go to the famous Broadmoor Hotel to watch a professional ballroom competition. Kim, an outstanding professional ballerina, jazz, and tap dancer herself, was thrilled with the opportunity to watch and judge the other couples competing to be the best at their craft.
We would head up to the famed Stanley Hotel in Estes Park to attend a wedding and hang out with some friends, but most of all it was just good to have my sister around because she was such a positive influence in my life. It proved to be an important trip for us, because little did we both know that she was only months away from her untimely death.
Kim was special to me because she was my greatest encourager. She cried with tears of joy at my cross-country and track races. She would greet me with “Hello Winner!” over the phone when I called her. She was usually the first person to come to my defense during times of strife. I was drawn to her, because she was my primary source of encouragement.
When Kim died and we greeted people at her funeral, I realized that I was not alone. I discovered that Kim had become an encourager to so many people in her life. I heard dozens of stories where Kim made a difference for someone simply by encouraging them to face their challenges.
I especially remember an observation the Senior Pastor’s wife made about Kim. “You know, I never heard your sister ever criticize her husband.”
“Really?” I inquired, not truly understanding the power in that statement, because I was not yet married myself.
“Yeah, sometimes when a bunch of women get together they can become critical of their spouses and complain about this or that, but not Kim, she was always very positive and encouraging about her husband and I was always impressed by that.” She smiled.
A year later, I was going through some boxes as I unpacked my things in my new home. I discovered a roll of undeveloped film (this was before life with digital cameras and smart phones of course!). I was curious, so I had it developed. I smiled and tears formed in my eyes when I looked at the photos I retrieved from the one hour photo shop.
The pictures were from that special weekend with my sister back in Colorado Springs. The sparkle in her eyes sent butterflies in my stomach as I recollected our weekend together. My heart ached for her encouragement, but my soul was inspired by the impact she had in my life. She was my big sister, my big encourager.
When I think about my own life, I often wonder what I am to most people I interact with on a regular basis. Am I their encourager like my sister was for me? Sadly, I often come to the conclusion that the answer is a flat “no!” and is an area of my life that I know I must to work to improve. Luckily for me, I have a model of what an encourager looks like, acts like, and how that kind of person can make you feel, because I have the memory of Kim.
When times are tough and you need encouragement, who do you call? Think of that person and then pick up the phone and call them to thank them for being a source of encouragement for you. Then ask yourself this fundamental question. Does anyone call you when they need encouragement? Are you an encourager? If not, become one, because life is so much better when encouragers inhabit the world. So why not be one yourself?