A poem about encouragement.


Encouragement Withheld

What shuts up my words of kindness,
stays the squeeze of my hand,
flattens my smile?
What gracious words die in my throat
for fear
that increasing her
might decrease me?
What criticisms curdle in my heart
and whisper in my mind,
of all she has done
that I could do better?
What satisfaction can come when I ruminate
on times she failed
and I did not?
When fissures of misery appear in me at her joy
can I fill them in with self-worth,
and paint over them with self-approval?
I convince myself
to offer nothing but
my silence.
Grace so freely given, squandered.
The beam still unseen.
The heart hardened.
The gift that might have been given,

Encouragement Given

It comes to my attention in conversation,
She has done something good,
She isn’t boasting or seeking approval, speaking quietly,
to give God the glory.
And so am I.
I see His image in her,
His voice in her words,
His heart in her actions,
His church edified,
His Son lived out.
Our God, who really does all things well, still uses us!
My gratitude rises
at Living Water flowing through
broken vessels.
Lord, let me be clean, let me be used.
Let me bring You glory;
let me tell her
what I see in her,
of You.

Encouragement Received

Failure chokes.
It derails usefulness,
questions worth,
strangles purpose.
It shouts in the quiet moments
that I blew it,
and whispers it when people are around
who do not know
who I really am.
It magnifies fears and evaporates prayers,
when I remember how I fell,
and that You had to die.
that I have fallen again.
I stand at the foot of the cross
and look not inward, but up.
The Light breaks through. 
He covers me with incomprehensible grace,
super-abounding grace,
releasing my breath,
obliterating my fears,
pouring in hope.
Still God looks on me and sees His Son,
He knows,
and still He loves!
Steadfastly, eternally.
The debt always paid,
the future always secure.
I pick up the cloth, the teapot,
the car keys,
and do the next thing
He’s called me to.
I feel joy, relief,
an outpouring of gratitude.
Another chance.
Another day to serve the One
who loves even me.
Spoken appreciation from another lifts me,
turning my gaze upward to Him.
I hear the warmth in her words,
feel the squeeze of her hand,
built up by the scaffold of
faithful encouragement.
What grace! What love!
That I might be useful still!
I bend the knee in gratitude and awe
to the (for)Giver of Mercies and turn,
heart overflowing,
to pour out my appreciation of Him
into another.