There is nothing like feeling confident about a new hair cut.  It’s fresh, you love the new look, and you can’t wait to show it off.  You finally get around a group of friends or coworkers and no one says anything.  No one even notices!  The length is different, the color is different, and you feel different.  It’s not that you needed the attention, but receiving a compliment or encouraging word would have been nice.
Or maybe you’re in a situation where something big is coming up.  You have a lot to get done and things are overwhelming.  You’re on track to complete the big task on time, but the stress is getting you down.  Looking for advice, you talk to friends about it.  Instead of giving words of encouragement, they start talking about all of the stressful tasks they have on their plates.  You end up giving them encouragement when really you needed it yourself.
I’ve been on both ends of both of these situations.  Sometimes I am the person with the new haircut.  Other times I am the person who noticed someone’s awesome new hair cut, but never said anything.  I have had moments where I needed encouragement to keep trekking up a mountain of a task.  There have been moments where I haven’t given friends what they need because I turned the conversation to myself.

Prayer for perspective has helped me become a more encouraging person.

About a year ago I began praying that I would become the person I knew I was in my heart.  That God would use my heart from the inside out.  At the time, I was afraid that others would deny my compliments or words of encouragement.  I chose to keep most of my encouraging thoughts to myself out of fear.  Then I realized that as adults, we are all just trying to do the best we can.  I like being around people who offer support and encouragement.  I want to be the kind of person people use as their support system.  When it is genuine, encouragement is always accepted.
Instead of holding my thoughts in, or turning the conversation to myself my prayers led me to listen to others.  Slowing down, listening, and putting myself in other’s shoes has allowed me to be encouraging in a genuine way.  As I have become that person, I have noticed that others have warmed up to me.

A Little Encouragement Can Go A Long Way

I remember having challenges in school that would get me down.  When I think of those times, I think of the teachers that offered me encouragement along the way.  While their words helped me push through tough obstacles, they were always honest.  Teachers would admit if I wasn’t there yet, but was on the right track.  Hearing a teacher verbally acknowledge that I was on the right track and should keep going helped me accomplish my goals.  It only took a sentence.  “You’re doing a good job.”  “You are strong enough to keep going.”  “You did well in class today.”  “I know how determined you are, and I know you can do this.”
Don’t be afraid to share your words of encouragement with others.  If you appreciate something someone did for you, tell them.  When you see a coworker persisting through the tough part of a project, let them know you see their hard work.  If you get together with your friend and she has an awesome new hair cut, compliment her.  The small affirmations and encouragements let other people know you’re noticing them.  They can turn a stressful day into an inspiring day.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Encourage others.  Be gracious, kind, and acknowledge their hard work.  Those words of encouragement help bring God’s light to their days.  Bringing light to others will also lighten your heart in return, and help attract a community of supportive friends that will be there when you need it.
Dear God, Your presence in my heart brings light to my life.  I want to bring Your light to others.  Help me slow down and hear when others need encouragement.  Allow me to listen the way You would listen, and offer encouragement to others the way You would.  Thank you for always being there for me when I need the strength to keep moving forward.  Amen.