“I shouldn’t have to beg for a compliment!” I finally blurt out as tears quickly form and begin threatening their escape.
My friend stares at me in surprise.
I had just finished praising her for her remarkably quick return to her pre-pregnancy size. She looked great, and I wanted her to know it.
I half-expected her to return the compliment so when she didn’t offer one freely, I casually asked her what she thought of my progress (albeit much slower progress).
Instead of a word of praise, I was slightly offended when she proceeded to tell me it was much harder after her first pregnancy to lose the baby weight (need I mention, that was the number I was on). Instead of the assurance I’m sure she meant for it to be, it felt like a total slap in the face.
“I mean, I know I’ve gained more weight postpartum… but I’ve really been trying to take care of myself… I’m working out again. I know it’s not much, just a couple times a week, but it’s a start… and I’m wearing make-up again… I even wear things other than leggings!”
I’m ugly crying by then as I stammer through my last big pronouncement.
“I just want to hear that I look pretty! I think I look good, but it sure would be nice to hear it from someone else once in awhile!”
My sweet friend, who was still in shock at my out-of-character outburst, reaches out to embrace me as I let the tears come flooding down my cheeks, forming a little pity-puddle on her shoulder.
I wish I could say those feelings I expressed in that moment with my friend were a rarity, but as a natural-born encourager, I often feel like I’m constantly praising others while my own tank is running on empty. Anyone else know the feeling?
Don’t misunderstand; I genuinely love to encourage others. I enjoy lifting people’s spirits and helping them feel seen.
It makes me happy to see their reactions. I can always tell by the look on someone’s face if it’s been awhile since they heard a kind word spoken about them.
I don’t want others to ever feel forgotten so if I can help it, I make it a point to encourage others intentionally and often.
Even at a very young age, I always enjoyed cheering for my siblings at their sporting events and complimenting them on a job well done. I loved praising my dad on his yard work or awesome grilling and telling him how handsome he looked when he wore fancy suits.
Rarely did a day go by without me praising my mom for her amazing cooking, homemaking skills and her naturally beautiful looks. My mom used to tell me that she knew she could always count on me to lend her a compliment.
And today, if I think something kind about someone else, I rarely keep it to myself. Instead, I say it out loud and on purpose to be heard by the one whom the praise is about.
Whether it is a compliment on their appearance or praise about their character or an inspiring word to remind them of their talents and gifts, I always try to intentionally encourage others because I know how much it means when someone does the same for me.
Everyone needs to hear good things spoken about them and over them.
No one is immune to the affects of praise.
Every single one of us wants and needs to hear that we matter, that we’re loved, that we’re exceptionally extraordinary in our own way. Some of us may want encouragement more than others, but none of us are immune to the impact it can have on our lives.
Encouragement lifts us up when we’re feeling low.
It gives us an extra boost when we feel deflated.
It offers hope when we desperately need it.
It reminds us of our worth when we’ve forgotten it.
It gives us direction when we’ve lost our way.
Unfortunately, for the life of a natural-born encourager, I’m often times so busy making sure others know how wonderful they are that I forget to look in the mirror and remind myself the same thing.
As I pull away from my pity-puddle of tears, I quickly apologize for soaking my friend’s shirt. Without missing a beat, my friend quickly replies:
“I’m the one who should be apologizing. You’re so good about complimenting me. Sometimes I forget to return the favor.”
My sweet friend proceeds to encourage me. She reminds me of my beauty, both inside and out. We exchange a few more hugs and laughter through tears.
When I think back to that conversation, I’m reminded of two very important life lessons. Number one, intentionally encourage others often.
May we, especially as women, find purpose and joy in celebrating other women. May we never forget to return a compliment. It doesn’t need to be immediate, but it does need to occur and be intentional and genuine. Sometimes we wait for the perfect moment to encourage someone when the perfect moment is right now.
The second lesson is just as important as the first, if not more so: Praising and encouraging yourself daily.
May we all, especially women, look in the mirror and praise ourselves for being fearfully and wonderfully made. May we never doubt in our beauty, our gracious character, our loving hearts, our strong minds, our unique gifts and passions.
As we learn to intentionally encourage others, may we also not neglect ourselves. Don’t wait to be affirmed by someone else. Boldly declare your worth every day before you start pouring into others.
When we fill ourselves with a healthy dose of self-love, we’re better equipped to pour out that love toward others in our encouraging words and selfless actions.
May we never forget the importance of encouragement.
Encourage others often.
Praise yourself just as much.
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