Lessons I’m Learning From Having A Voice But Not Being Able To Speak

I love to encourage others. Knowing what to do or say to lift someone’s spirit comes very naturally to me. I barely have to think about it. I’m also very comfortable paying someone a sincere compliment without giving a moment’s thought to what they’ll think of me.

That’s just the way God has wired me….

If there’s one thing I know from experience, it’s this: no matter who we are, no matter our station in life, and regardless of where we’ve come from or where we’re going…each of us loves the sound of our own name and we desire our very presence to matter. Simply, we all want to be affirmed. That’s why we all crave encouragement. Yet amid our crazy and busy lives, we barely have time to acknowledge one another, much less encourage. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that no one wants to feel invisible or unimportant.

One restaurant server I know bemoaned the fact that she can work an entire eight-hour shift without a single person addressing her by name (which is prominently displayed on her name tag). That’s why I always make it a point to call the person serving me at the restaurant, the grocery store cashier, the customer service rep on the other end of the line, the medical receptionist, and so on, by name. Often, they have not so great an attitude at first. But by the end of our exchange, they act like completely different people simply because I have acknowledged them or said something to affirm them.

But here’s what I did not know before now. And I think it qualifies as the biggest lesson I’ve so far learned from not having a voice. At a time when I (the encourager) could use some encouragement myself, I’ve discovered that many people simply don’t know how to give encouragement (often they don’t know how to receive it either). I mentioned earlier that God’s wired me to be an encourager. The key word is “wired.” God has uniquely gifted me to be an encourager. I didn’t really “get” this before–I used to equate encouraging others with loving others, sort of as a general trait rather than the gift that it is (although God does call us to encourage one another). Though I recognize that we all have different gifts, I’m only now beginning to understand that not everyone is designed to naturally encourage others. I’m learning that people are not going about their merry way choosing to ignore me or not caring about what I’m going through. Without this understanding, I would have been tempted to be resentful of others not being there for me; thankfully, I now don’t hold it against them.