Sunday, January 13, 2013

community & encouragement

Vanessa did a wonderful devotional during our meeting this month, & was kind enough to share her notes. Her words touched me, & I hope they'll help you too. If you have a sec, check out her blog as well...

Wise words from Vanessa:
When I was asked about doing this devotion, with the focus of this month being on postpartum depression, I began praying & asking God to show me which way He wanted me to take this. There were two words that kept coming to mind -- community 

encouragement
-- which I feel go hand in hand. 

As someone who has walked alongside friends going through difficult situations & who has personally battled postpartum depression, I can speak to both sides of the coin. And the thing I want every single mom to know is that you are not alone. Satan wants us isolated. You are not the only mom who struggles to get out of bed in the morning. You are not the only mom who is frustrated at things you maybe shouldn't be frustrated about. You are not the only mom who just wants to crawl under the covers & be done with the day at 10:00am. You are not alone.

I think this is hard to remember in the world we live in... where we try to impress each other & so many times act like we have it all together. I'm guilty of this. We only post pictures & words on facebook, or twitter, or instagram that make us look like awesome moms -- the cookie-baking, the fort-building, the super-smart thing your child said. You don't see many updates about losing your cool with your kids, or the nasty bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in forever, or the fact that your child is driving your crazy. We are trying to keep up this image that isn't real, but that somehow has become the ideal. And I think that when we are going through difficult times, this ideal keeps us from sharing our struggles with others for fear of judgement or misunderstanding.


So my encouragement today to each one of us would be to work hard at building real-deal, authentic, "I'm not trying to impress you" community. A community of friends who know what your life is really like between the pretty pictures & awesome status updates. A community of friends who assume the best about you & you assume the best about them no matter what is going on. A community of friends who fight against comparison, who embrace you right where you are & who love you through it. This kind of community requires hard work because in order to have those kind of friends, we have to lower our walls, become vulnerable, & be that kind of friend as well. 
James 3:18 (MSG)
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life & is characterized by getting along with other. It is gentle & reasonable, overflowing with mercy & blessings, not hot one day & cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God & enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity & honor.
And, when you have that community, those friends who you can share the ugly side of you with, make encouragement your mission. To encourage means to inspire someone with courage or confidence to do something; to support. This may not come naturally to you but you can do it! One of the  most important things to remember about encouragement is that
       if you don't speak it, it is not encouragement. 

So if you think something -- say it or do it. This is especially helpful for those going through a season of depression because it's hard to remember you are not alone if there's no one reminding you of that. A text message, a card in the mail, a phone call to help with a meal... any time you get a little nudge or prompting about someone, follow through with it. Make a note, use post-its, remind yourself. Be willing to carry each others burdens, knowing that you may be on the receiving end one day.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 (MSG)
Gently encourage the stragglers, & reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. Look for the best in each other & always do your best to bring it out. 
I really want to encourage you... don't try to do this alone. You can, but there is absolutely no need to! We are not created to do life alone. Jesus himself had a close community. My hope & prayer is that as moms of little ones, we will be each other's biggest cheerleaders -- knowing that we are in the middle of one tough job. Let's be real with each other & lift each other up as much as we possibly can. Let's make each other stronger & see the difference that it will make in your life & those around you!

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