It has been a busy Monday and as much as I am wanting to crawl into bed, I have had something on my heart since Saturday morning that I want to share. As you may have read, I had the opportunity and privilege to take a group of our youth to a 2-night conference called ‘Impact’ in Steinbach and I got to spend the majority of my time with 9 incredible young ladies.
The main speaker for the weekend, was a professor from the college, Gord Penner. As he walked us through stories in the Old Testament and the characters that overcame odds, persevered through fear, and accomplished incredible things, there was one phrase, that he mentioned right at the beginning of his talks on Friday night. It was, “Show me who your friends are and I will show you who you are.”
I wrote it down in big, bold letters in my notebook yet didn’t know why. The idea and concept of surrounding yourself with good, encouraging, loving people was nothing new. I have always prided myself on having some of the most supportive, caring, selfless friends, yet for some reason, when I heard the phrase, it stuck in my mind.
As the weekend continued, the group of gals I was with began to interact and grow together in a way I’d never experienced in that short amount of time. The conversations we had were real and deep and meaningful and vulnerable and challenging and honest and broken. I got to witness them truly listen to each other, uplift each other, and speak the truth to one another. Some of them had been carrying around pain, guilt, and shame that they’d placed on themselves due to past mistakes. The weight was becoming too much to bear and I got to see it lifted! See it taken away and replaced with joy and love and the promise that we are never too far gone or alone. I watched as these already beautiful, courageous, masterpieces became MORE joyful and full of life. And I wasn’t just sitting on the sidelines, I felt it too!
Although we left the weekend a little sleep deprived, we all had this new ‘pep in our step.’ We’d found this assurance that no matter what life threw at us, we knew where our foundation was. We might have come into the weekend as individuals, in different places, dealing with different things, going through our struggles but we ALL left as sisters, closer to each other and closer to HIM!
On the bus ride home and last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about WHY. Why was this weekend so powerful. Why and HOW did each of us, leave feeling the same. Why were these 48 hours so different from other retreats or times together?
And then, as I was sitting on my couch, mindless scrolling through Instagram, I read several posts that said things like:
“I have to be my number one fan because no one is going to advocate and love me as I can.”
“The only important option that matters is…MINE.”
“Investing in yourself is the most important thing you can do.”
As I rolled my eyes at each one, it hit me… the reason our weekend was so incredible, so different, so impactful, and moving was that we were filling ourselves and surrounding ourselves with TRUTH!
Seeing those posts made me realize what we, a society, spend the majority of our time doing, and unfortunately, it’s filling ourselves with EMPTY ENCOURAGEMENTS. Sure they may ‘sound’ great but when you break them down, they are empty. They have nothing to back them up. They leave you alone. Solo. They lack the TRUTH!
As much as I want to tackle this whole ‘EMPTY ENCOURAGEMENT’ issue now, as it is so important to me, I need to take some time to research, pray and look into the best way to approach, what might be a bit of a controversial topic in our ‘ME FIRST’ society. By the new year, as we are all stressing about making those darn New Year’s resolutions, I’ll dig into ‘EMPTY ENCOURAGEMENTS’ and replace them with promises you can actually believe in.
For now, I challenge you to think about what you listen to. What do you surround yourself with? What are your friends telling you? What do you repost and forward along to your friends and followers? What do you believe?
IS IT TRUE?
is it an EMPTY ENCOURAGEMENT?
It might seem like a silly question or one that you can easily answer but seriously think about it. What you surround yourself with, listen to and speak makes a profound impact on WHO you are and HOW you are.
To conclude, yes, the gals that were on the trip were awesome, to begin with, but the reason it was such a great weekend had nothing to do with us. It was not about what WE could say or do, but what HE was doing. When someone was vulnerable, honest, and open, our reply was not one of self-help or pity, but one that pointed, with a big, flashing arrow to the only one that has the power to heal. When someone accomplished a goal, like public speaking or praying out loud, we didn’t start telling them how great THEY were, but thanking HIM, the source of confidence and accomplishment.
I know why I wrote down the phrase, “Show me who your friends are and I will show you who you are” the first hour I was there. That phrase, which I’d heard many times before, throughout the weekend took on a whole new meaning. It had nothing to do with my friends' personalities, their accomplishments, the mistakes they’ve made, how popular they were or how they dressed.
It had everything to do with what they believed and what they spoke.
Because we surrounded ourselves with TRUTH, we each became filled with TRUTH. As we became filled with TRUTH, we were able to speak TRUTH. As we spoke TRUTH, we were able to walk in TRUTH. And walking in TRUTH leads to the best thing ever... JOY!
And there is NO GREATER JOY than to know that you are walking in TRUTH.