You need a reservoir of encouragement to fuel your walk and to allow you to be a wealth of encouragement to and for others. A dry reservoir doesn’t do anyone any good and actually becomes a hazard to everyone.
I watched a video recently about the record low levels of Lake Mead – a reservoir that provides energy, water, and entertainment to millions of people. The low water levels caused by historic drought have put all of that at risk. Plus, the low levels mean that being in and around the depleted reservoir has newly exposed hazards, such as rocks, mud, and unexpected shallows.
Plus, the news says the low levels could mean one of the largest suppliers of energy won’t be able to produce.
Low reservoirs cause problems and hold dangers – whether that low reservoir is a large lake or your heart. When your encouragement reservoir runs low, it can be tough for you and for all those folks downstream.
The Lake Mead reservoir is fed by rainfall and snowmelt each year. In a similar way, your encouragement reservoir will be fed by the people you’re around, the things you surround yourself with, and the focuses you have.
The Lake Mead reservoir is depleted by usage downstream and by the daily elements, it encounters. In a similar way, your encouragement will be depleted by the things that suck at your encouragement, by people that gnaw at your hope, and by choices to do things that eat away at your joy.
You have to be actively invested in making choices that will feed your encouragement reservoir so you will have what you need to keep on keeping on. You also have to find ways to protect against the encouragement siphoners.
If you’re going to begin living encouraged then you need to build a self-filling encouragement reservoir or at least you need to be invested in filling your encouragement reservoir regularly.
- Build a wall of encouragement
- Construct a journal of gratitude
- Invest in quick fix encouragement boosts
- Draw from larger sources
- Protect from siphoners
You have to be encouraged to be an encouragement. You need a constant feed of encouragement to be encouraged enough to encourage others – sometimes in little bits or dips and sometimes in downpours.
When circumstances are dark or the people around you are tangled in webs of discouragement, finding encouragement can feel like an insurmountable wall.
But what if you didn’t have to get over the wall? What if you had an encouragement wall standing between you and the darkness?
When I was in school, I had a plaque hanging above my desk. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.” I carried the plaque with me to college where it again hung above my desk. When things got tough, I focused on the quote to find the motivation to keep going. When I married and moved into our home, I again found a prominent place for the plaques.
The words reminded me to keep going.
Over the years, I added more quotes, pictures, and sayings to the wall where the plaque hung. Some of what was tacked up there just made me smile. Some were emails or messages sent to me by readers. Some were words I had crafted that struck a particularly strong note with my heart.
When I would look up at the wall, I would be encouraged.
Step One: If you’re going to create a reservoir of encouragement, you are going to need to build a wall.
Your wall of encouragement will look different from mine – in part because we are different people in different places and in part because our spaces are different. The things that offer me a needed boost of encouragement will likely be different from you. The physical situation will be different and sometimes different at different times.
No matter the circumstances, you can create a wall of encouragement that will go where you need it to go and work the way you need it to work.
- Start a folder. Put your encouragement tidbits in a folder you can easily access. It can be a physical folder or a digital folder. Set up the background on your computer or device as the folder so that the images you see will be a running encouragement. When you look at your screen, it will feed you some encouragement. If you leave it physical, then make sure your encouragement folder is easy to access.
- Go old school. Get a spiral-bound index card book or a small black book – the key is to have something that’s portable. Write out encouraging words or cut and paste encouragement moments. When the darkness attacks, open up your book and let the words begin to fill your encouragement reservoir.
- Slather a wall, a door, or a mirror with words of hope, happiness, or encouragement. When you have times of struggle, go stand in front of the wall and inhale the encouragement.
The key to having a wall of encouragement is to build one that works for you so you can let the wall feed your reservoir.
But don’t stop at building a wall. Build bridges, gardens, and masterful works of encouragement architecture. Let your imagination run wild with things you can build to fuel your encouragement.
A perfect bridge from darkness to light is gratitude. Not much will fuel encouragement faster than a gracious spirit. It’s hard to dwell in the negatives when you are sharing thanks and gratitudes that come from a genuine heart.
Last week I mentioned attending a meeting that challenged my ability to be encouraged. What got me through was finding ways to be thankful.
- I was thankful to have a place to share my voice.
- I was thankful to have so many people willing to get involved.
- I was grateful to have so many leaders who showed genuine concern.
- I was grateful I didn’t have to attend regularly.
Every little gratitude and thanksgiving I found made it easier to make it through.
Step Two: If you are going to create a reservoir of encouragement you need to develop a gratitude journal.
Each day, I take time to write down something I am grateful for – it needs to be something specific from that day or for that day. When the going gets tough, I can reach through the gratitude journal to find inspirations of encouragement. I also write a morning gratitude and evening gratitude in my focus folder each day.
It’s a running joke among most writers about the vast storage of blank journals and notebooks we all have filling our shelves. When people begin pursuing writing, journals become the default gift. Oftentimes, writers indulge in that habit themselves. And then they aren’t sure what to fill the journals with so they begin to stack up.
Several years ago, I started using several of my journal stash to create intentional records.
- I have a prayer journal that I use to keep up with prayers folks have asked for or that have been on my heart.
- I have a Scripture journal where I keep verses that have had a particular effect on my heart.
- I have a gratitude journal where I write things that fill me with joy.
I try to make use of my gratitude journal every day. It gives me a place to turn (literally, because I turn through the pages) when things are tough. I can read through the gratitude journal to find inspiraitons and encouragements.
I also write down a morning gratitude and an evening gratitude in my focus folder each day – so I have a double dose of gratitudes when I need them.
What is a way you can create a journal of encouragement?
I have a friend that decided to write something nice about his wife every day for a year. Some days he wrote more than one, but every day he wrote one. He dropped them in a jar and at the end of the year he wrapped the jar and gave it to his wife.
Two things came of his endeavors.
- He never ran out of graittudes to share because the more gracious he was the more he found to be gracious about.
- His wife had a jar of gratitudes to feed her encouragement reservoir. She had over a year’s worth of boosts to keep her going.
Whether you’re giving the jar or getting the jar, a jar of gratitudes is another way to journal your encouragement. And getting an encouragement jar as a gift would be an excellent way to get a quick encouragement boost.
Feeling a little blue? Snag a gratitude from the jar and let those words soothe you.
With that in mind, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a personal encouragement jar just for such an occasion – like when you have a tough day (or a rough meeting) coming up you can just snag an encouragement or gratitude from the jar and take it with you.
Step Three: If you are going to create an encouragement reservoir you need to set some quick fix boosts.
Feeding growing boys could be a challenge. Keeping them fed while homeschooling, maintaining the home and yard, and building a full-time writing career didn’t always work out.
Somedays, I just wanted to phone it in, except we lived in the woods so nobody would deliver to us. Phoning it in wasn’t an option.
I learned that if I created a few quick-fix options then when the day got away from me or circumstances overwhelmed me or I just wanted to phone it all in, I had an option. I developed a system that allowed me to create easy meals or parts of meals when I was doing my regular meal prep. I had choices for those times when I couldn’t get it done.
Keeping encouragement fed is much like keeping growing guys in grub. You have to plan some easy grab-and-go boosts and some elements that could be thrown together for an encouragement fix when you don’t have the time or the energy to keep on keeping on.
- Preset your favorite songs in your phone are car.
- Bookmark your laugh-out-loud movie scenes or TV scenes.
- Keep your go-to smile friend on emergency message status.
A little dose of laughter or joy or a simple smile can give you the encouragement boost you need just when you need it the most. Even though the little bits can add up to big things, sometimes you just need more.
Even though the little bits can add up to big things, sometimes you just need more.
Recently, I found myself tangled in the web of negativity left by someone close to me. I had been getting along just fine until that web of negativity got a hold of me.
I was tired.
I was frustrated.
I was ready to give up.
Instead, I took a few days to attend a seminar based on the book THINK AND GROW RICH.
I took notes.
I found encouragement.
The engagement with the other attendees and speakers, the information they shared, and the encouragement that started to flow gave me what I needed to get untangled.
Step Four: If you are going to create an encouragement reservoir you need to find places that are bigger pools of encouragement.
I came away from that event reinvigorated for my unique purpose. Over the next several weeks, I tapped into those feelings when the going got tough or when I just got up on the wrong side of the bed.
Investing in these bigger events is like a week of heavy rain showers for the water reservoir. The encouragement reservoirs are filled and you have those reserves to draw on when you hit some dry times.
The encouragement reservoir gives us the place to turn to hold on to the hope. Hope will get us through even the toughest times.
Sometimes the toughest times are created by the people we choose to be around or the commitments we choose to make.
I started a job where I had to attend meetings all day once a week. For the most part, I was just there – not giving anything and not getting anything. I did lose a full day each week and I never found that time again.
On top of losing the time, I also came away exhausted. Very few positives were passed on during the meetings. It took me several months to realize the meetings were depleting my encouragement reservoir. I eventually made the choice to walk away.
Step Five: If you are going to create a reservoir of encouragement then you have to protect yourself from the siphoners.
When things suck away your encouragement, it may be time to say no or to walk away.
- Do you enjoy the connection or event?
- Do you feel inspired or motivated afterward?
- Do you dread attending or visiting the people or place?
- Do you look for excuses not to be a part of it?
You may not be able to continually feed your encouragement, but you can find ways to avoid letting things steal the encouragement you have. Take time to review your commitments to see what feeds your joy and positivity. Evaluate your connections so you know how they are helping or stealing your encouragement.
A strong encouragement reservoir will give you what you need to keep on keeping on. It will fuel your ability to find the light when darkness attacks.
- Build a wall of encouragement
- Construct a journal of encouragement
- Invest in quick fix encouragement boosts
- Draw from larger encouragement sources
- Protect against encouragement siphoners.
You will live your bold and purposeful life when you have the resources to get there. You stay focused for your best life when you create a reservoir of encouragement to give you what you need to get there.
Have you missed any of the Living Encouraged episodes?