1 Thessalonians 5:11
"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."
My coworkers have a tradition: the staff goes out to lunch in celebration of one of its members' birthdays, during which each person says a couple things about the birthday person they appreciate. Today was one such lunch for my birthday. Often, the appreciation can be a bit generic, with a few meaningful things here and there. Today, God blessed me with an outpouring of heartfelt appreciation from every one of my coworkers in areas I regard with high value: character, growth in the Lord, growth in being a mother, trustworthiness, and even being on top of things. I nearly cried.
You see, lately I have acutely seen and felt the areas in my life in which I'm not doing so well... many of which overlap the very areas in which my coworkers complimented me.
I have a lot on my plate right now with: new software implementation and designing new offices at work; supporting my family in readying our current house to sell; co-orchestrating the purchase of a new house along with my in-laws (and our subsequent move); learning about a homeschool co-op and working with a charter to help fund school for my oldest son who starts this fall; trying to rehash my work schedule to coordinate with my son's school schedule; and working with doctors and trying new treatments for my severe chronic pain as I care for our two kiddos as a part-time stay-at-home-mom (to highlight a few).
Motherhood, though a definite calling in my life, is not my talent, and I have watched with dismay, my selfishness in dealing with my kids - especially in the midst of these challenges. I'm easily irritable, put them off, and sometimes outright ignore them. The problem is that I'm not looking at the bigger picture. Do I fall short of perfect on a daily basis? Certainly! Yet there is growth on my part.
I honestly dislike it when others (who don't really know me) see what I'm facing and say, "You're doing a great job!" because they have no idea with just the superficial picture before them... but I think I finally understand why they do it. Motherhood is a difficult thing on its own, because it is ever-present amidst all the beautiful catastrophe of life. It never truly ends, and we all need encouragement through it. Even if you aren't a mother, encouragement is huge. We simply need it, because we lose sight of the bigger picture. We get bogged down in day-to-day battles, and don't look back to realize that - through God's amazing grace and sovereign power - we're slowly but surely winning the war.
I love the verses just before the one quoted above: "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
What a great reminder of the bigger picture of eternity and where our hope truly lies: Christ! These days and their suffering will pass, but Christ and our unmerited inheritance in and with Him, will not. I thank God for the encouragement He sent me today to help shift my focus toward Him, and I hope this serves as an encouraging reminder for you!