By Linda Grupp Boutin
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
Two of the most demanding disciplines in my life are writing every day and loving those around me unconditionally. Both require exactly what the verse above explores. God designed human nature not to be fearful, but to be powerful with love and self-discipline when following the example of Jesus. Whenever I successfully set aside my fears, step out in faith and embrace another in need, then my insecurities recede to the background.
At times in my life a fair description for me was an introvert. Many times I wanted to go and run and hide away from everyone and everything. Slowly I came to understand what I feared most were my problems. One teacher told me, "Linda, you must tame your fears and walk them like a dog on a leash." This solution presented me an image I could relate to and use when my first thought to withdraw overcame what I knew I should do. I know how to walk a dog on a leash properly, although sometimes I allow my dogs to get away with pulling me around. Have you ever had that sensation of being pulled in a direction you do not want to go?
So how does a spirit of power that is empowered by God, help you get through the day? First I needed to experience confidence in my passion. At the deepest level I understood that everyone I had ever met wanted to express themselves. So many bore wounds so deep they could not find their voice, much less say what they needed to say. The courage needed to pick up a pen, or paint brush, or sing a song defeated so many talented individuals. I pulled out my bandages and when allowed began binding up those wounded by life. The source of all this pain varied from person to person, but one salve applied to the cuts of life worked, unconditional love.
Now don't even think I have mastered the act of unconditional love, it ebbs and flows just like the tides within me. However models of that behavior have impacted my life for so much good that I just keep striving. It is the simple act of trying to love unconditionally that winds up stretching out a helping hand and assists the next person to take that very first step. And as one life interlocks with another life, a hand can be extended to the next person and so on and so on until a human chain pulls up the next person in line.
So the next time you see a person in need, in whom you recognize an aching soul, take that moment to extend a helping hand. You might find you experience the joy of impacting another person's life for the good. Just like a smile, laugh or tear can be contagious, so too can encouragement help that person take that next courageous step. And then the next time you see that pain, it gets a tad bit easier to extend your help. You'll learn that sometimes it takes repeated effort or someone else doing the same, but once you see hope light up in that one person's eyes, you will find the pull of helping irresistible.
Quote for tonight: "EnCOURAGEment is the act of giving someone courage." Beth Moore