The life-changing power of encouragement

Column Post by Laura Hyers

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have some friends who are very important to me, whom I’ve never met in person. I’ve never sat across a table from them at a coffee shop or stood shoulder to shoulder in a bookstore or even seen their faces on a computer screen while we video chat from our respective locations. Some people are confused when I say this, wondering how I could make such strong connections with people I’ve never actually been with in “real life.” And the answer is simple: the Internet.

With so many opportunities for connection, so much self-advertisement, and many people looking for a monetary benefit from their social media outlets, its refreshing to have found a handful of kindred spirits, people with whom I can identify in spite of our differences in age and location and lifestyle. I have reaped many blessings from friends I’ve made online; I really couldn’t explain it fully in a single post ¾ or even a series of posts.

So what ties together these individuals in my mind, other than the way we “met?” A single shining gift that each has given me: encouragement.

I’m talking about truthful, meaningful, personal words of affirmation and challenge, things that spur me on and make me blush with a little-girl kind of pleasure, a timely quote or verse or virtual hug, and so many times just recognition, validation for who I am and where I am and what I care about.

I am consistently humbled by the outpouring of love I have received from these friends, many of whom know my heart better than people who see me on a regular basis. I’ve been complimented and encouraged by a woman I look up to, a woman I practically want to be, told I’m gifted and talented and that I don’t fully realize it and that my obedience will reveal the truth to me in time.

I’ve also been reassured of a budding friendship and my authenticity as a storyteller by a friend who is insisting I attend a conference with her next year. Both of these things have happened within the past 24 hours, and I am filled to the brim with gratitude for these women.

Encouragement is such a powerful thing, and we seldom realize it until we are exploding with joy or—conversely—wallowing in our own self-doubt and insecurities.

I’m challenging myself, and you, should you feel up to the challenge. Be gracious with your words this week. Be intentional and uplifting and watch what happens. See those around you, whether literally or through a computer screen, light up when you point out their inner strength and your faith in them. Watch them reach for bigger and better things because they have a renewed inspiration in their dreams.

And then wait for how they’ll change the world.

. . . . . . . . . .

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Laura Hyers is a Tampa native, writer, and the newly wed wife of musician Caleb. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in literature and is currently teaching preschool. When not chasing a class of two-year-olds, Laura is writing and fighting fierce bouts of wanderlust. She loves music, reading, being near the ocean, and dreaming big over huge cups of coffee with her best friend Lakin. Laura blogs at http://littlebirdmarie.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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