Our tree still stands in our living room releasing a dusting of dried needles for me to sweep up ever day. But the extra work doesn’t bother me because of the joy that our tree, lit and decorated with meaningful ornaments, brings to our family. (Although come next Tuesday I think it will be time to send our tree on to a “better place”!)
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.
I love the smells, and the sounds, and the tastes that are associated with the Christmas season. And not least of all, I love how the world-over many of us exchanged presents in celebration of the greatest gift ever given–the gift of God’s son. It’s such a beautiful reminder of His sacrifice for us.
As Christmas ends and we lean into a New Year and all that it holds for us, I want to share a little something with you. A gift, of sorts, you might say. It’s something that has brought me so much joy (and has hopefully brought other people joy as well). I thought it might be something good to be thinking about as we make plans for the New Year.
Instead of orienting all of our New Years goals around ourselves, how about we make some goals that would bless the people in our lives? What if we decided to offer the gift of encouragement to those around us? What if we became a person who lifted others up instead of tearing them down (in public AND in the privacy of our homes)?
I first began to think about living this way (as someone who encourages others) when my family started attending a small church in Virginia years ago. The pastor’s wife at that church was a lovely example of this to me and became a mentor of sorts (as I observed her life). She used her words to build people up, to encourage them in their faith, and to help them in any way she could. I benefit from her encouragement to this day (past and current). Even though she lives far away, I still receive texts and emails with encouragement from her!
I am far from the encourager that my “mentor” was to me and have a lot to learn. But, I’m telling you, every time I encourage other people I find myself so, so encouraged also. Not that people necessarily offer encouragement in return. But there is something beautiful and there really is something uplifting that happens in us when we are a blessing to other people. When I experience this, I am always reminded of the proverb that says: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
Yes! It’s true!
So, as we set out to make resolutions for the new year, might I suggest one of those be to offer the gift of encouragement to others (regardless of how they might respond in return). I am positive we won’t regret it one bit. As it really is a gift to yourself as well.
With love, Lauren
P.S. I should mention that when we live our lives focused on others and how we can be a blessing to them, not only are we encouraged in the process, it is almost impossible to feel jealousy or negativity. I find the more I focus on myself the less happy I am in the long-run. And the more others-oriented I am the more joy I have.
P.P.S. I wanted to say thank you for the encouragement I have received from dear readers. It has meant a lot to me as I continue with this little blog!