Encouraging Words

Published December 12, 2012

If you have just discovered this blog let me invite you to check out my previous five blogs. You should quickly discover my desire to use this blog as a tool to bring insight, encouragement, and perhaps answers to challenges we all face in life. As an ordained minister one of my greatest duties is to follow the mandate of my God; (Comfort, Comfort my people; Isaiah 40:1). Who can deny that any encouragement, be it small or large brings comfort to people’s lives. To this end I felt compelled to share the impact of encouragement or lack of encouragement in my life. To do this I will pull back the curtains on a few more windows of my life.

If you have read my previous postings you will discover some past personal history and this posting will continue with that theme.

My last of three moves within a five-year period (gives me some understanding and empathy for the military families) occurred just as I entered my high school freshman year. Let me be quick to say, that for me personally, it was not that bad. Yes, there was a lot of bullying, harassment, and unkind words. Encouragement of any kind was in short supply from the upper classes.

However in my case I found a sense of encouragement in the simple fact I was not alone. I was surrounded by a multitude of other freshmen who were facing the same difficulties, challenges, and insecurities. I truly did discover the concept of ‘safety in numbers’.

Come on now! Who does not remember male or female, the awkwardness, the embarrassment, and the great insecurity of puberty? How many can say they dreaded going to school or to a particular class? You were probably overwhelmed with thoughts of the mockery, ridicule, and down right meanness you knew was coming your way. Let’s not even bring up the dreaded and humiliating gym class with the required, mandated, and in my mind, sadistic command, “everyone in the shower”! I am not nor will I ever say I am a psychologist! I am however, confident enough to suggest when it comes to the subject of puberty there probably is no greater time in a persons live when they need these sweet, sweet words of encouragement. Your beautiful, your handsome, what a good-looking person you are. You are smart, you are intelligent. You can do it. YOU ARE IMPORTANT! YOU ARE LOVED!!

Encouraging words, unbelievably strong and important life changing words! Get into the practice and discipline of encouragement. You will see lives changed!

One of my most enjoyable and happiest moments in life is when I learned to drive! I was raised in an agriculture, farming, and ranch environment. When it is was time to harvest the hay there was always a need for someone to ‘drive the tractor’. I say this loosely because there was really very little driving involved. If they had enough confidence in your ability to keep the “damn tractor straight and turn when I say turn, “STOP WHEN I YELL STOP” and your feet could reach the brake pedal you were hired. Like I said, there wasn’t much ‘driving’ involved. They would line the tractor up with the first row of hay, plump your butt in that very massive tractor seat, throttle the tractor down to its lowest speed, once again make sure you understood the importance of “STOP WHEN I SAY STOP and keep the “damn tractor straight”, only then would  the circus  begin. Wow! What a confidence builder, what an encouraging experience those times were. There were times, although very few, when for what ever reason you just could not keep the tractor straight. Or maybe you were late on the turn, and then things would turn discouraging very quickly. The pressure of getting the hay in before it spoiled made patience run out and tempers flair. On those rare occasions, words were used that believe me, were not words of encouragement! Most times they would apologize and say they were sorry. That in itself was a great encouragement and restoring of confidence. They were hard-working, honest, people who needed encouragement in their lives too.

When I was old enough to get my learners permit and obtain my driver’s license I was too confidant. I almost got myself into some serious situations and I quickly discovered I did not know it all when it came to driving.  But my stepdad (again, what a wonderful man) was a great encourager and through his patience I learned how to really drive. I will never forget the many trips we made to get the milk. Yes, we actually drove to a farm and purchased fresh milk, right from the cow’s tit. This required us to go at least twice a week sometimes more (six kids to feed). As I recall the total mileage was probably no more than ten to twelve miles round trip. We had a combination of city driving, county road driving, and farm lane or driveway driving. The latter often dealt with treacherous mud that would either suck you in and bury your vehicle or send you into slips and slides that would challenge any Disney Land thrill ride! All had there special and unique driving applications with their own set of rules and laws of the road to be obeyed. I can not think of a better environment to learn to drive in!

As I said earlier, my stepdad was a great encourager. At that time our one and only car was a three speed van with the shift lever on the steering column, more panel than passenger and it therefore had a great deal of power and speed. So of course learning the intricacies of engaging a clutch was intimidating. My step dad never yelled when I stalled the engine but calmly said let’s try it again you can do it. Practice makes perfect, you’re doing better, you’re going to be a great driver. What great reassuring words those were! I remember the times he would prepare me for the drive through the mud with calm assurance telling me, you made it through last time you will make it through this time. Never did he grab the steering wheel to correct my spins or bad driving. Probably because he was to busy holding on to his arm rest and the front of his seat! The day he said I could make the milk run on my own was one of the greatest encouragements in my life. In his eyes I had passed the test! What law enforcement thought will remain my secret.

Next time memories of encouragement and discouragement in the era of hippies, Vietnam, free love, and will I ever get out of high school:

I pray you are being encouraged, Dave

(Rev. David Larsen – Chaplain Compassion Nevada)

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