The Price of Encouragement

The Price of Encouragement

All right ladies, I’m going to be candid with you. Sometimes being an introvert is really hard.

Can I get an amen?

I won’t use my introvertedness (yeah, made that word up) as an excuse to stay home, but I will admit that it’s hard to walk into a room with a bunch of new people. I often find I don’t know what to do. I’m usually thinking one (if not all) of these things: Do I stand here looking terribly alone? Do I strike out on my own? If so, how do I break into that large group of people? What will I say as an introduction? Can everyone hear my heart, because I think it’s pounding out the rhythm to la cucaracha? Do I look awkward–because I feel awkward?

The Price of Encouragement by Emilie Hendryx | Putting On The New

From Unsplash by Morgan Sessions

It just takes a spark of encouragement for confidence to grow.

I think we often think of encouragement as something that we do for our friends and family. We are there for them, support them, and “stir [them up] to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). All of those things are true, but they shouldn’t be limited to our friends and family. I want us to take a look at encouragement as something more than just a well-placed word, but rather an action.

Price of Encouragement by Emilie Hendryx | Putting on the New

From Unsplash by Chris Sardegna

No one likes to be alone.

 

Let’s go back to the image of someone standing against a wall, “looking in”.  I notice this all too often at Christian events or church gatherings. We (and I am totally lumping myself in here) tend to create cliques far too frequently. It’s so easy–all of your friends are there, you feel comfortable around one another, and if you’re introverted like me, you “made it” through that barrier at one time or another to be where you are now.

This is the perfect time to count the cost of encouragement…

 

What you could lose:

  • Time spent with your friends (the ones you usually see anyway)
  • The details to your friends latest online dating exploits (I’m sure she’ll recap that later for you)
  • Your spot in the group (let’s face it, you can barge right back in because it’s your group)
  • Facing your own introverted fears (remember, you were probably where they were once)

What you could gain:

  • A new friend
  • A following (come on, you know those friends who will break out of the group with you to go meet someone new)
  • A new perspective (rather than just talking with those you know, break out into conversations with those you don’t)
  • Confidence (because hey, you just made a new friend!)
  • A deeper sense of community (love ’em like Jesus does)

When I was working with a high school group the youth pastor would always send the staff off to meet our students by saying, “Let’s be wall scrapers.” What he meant by that was the fact that we needed to go out into the room of potentially awkward high school aged kids and find the ones who were alone. The ones who were on the walls. It was his way of reminding us that all the students needed our attention, but more than anything he wanted those less comfortable to feel accepted right away.

I saw amazing things happen when I “scraped the walls”. I met some extremely shy students, but they always left the night feeling loved. More often than not, those students were the ones who came back, and the ones who, only weeks later, were acting goofy and crazy with everyone else. It just took one person to make that connection with them.

The Price of Encouragement by Emilie Hendryx | Putting On The New

It’s not easy to do that. In fact, it takes reorienting your mindset. Instead of thinking that the gathering (church, fellowship group, conference, you-name-it) is a chance for you to hang out with your friends, see it as an opportunity for you to meet new friends. The bonus here is that then you can introduce them to your friends and it’s a win/win.

I want to put a challenge to you today. Think through where you’re cutting costs. Do you make others feel welcome? Do you seek out the loner who’s holding up the wall? Do you weigh your own comfort over the cost of making someone else feel welcome? If so, ask the Lord to change your heart. To give you eyes to see those who need a friend and who need to be let in.

The price of encouragement is always worth paying.

 

Cover Image from Unsplash by Julia Caesar

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Emilie Hendryx About Emilie Hendryx

Emilie is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Dayton, Ohio. She’s a member of ACFW and writes romantic suspense and YA Sci-Fi. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.
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Comments

  1. Amen! As a military family we are always facing the challenges of being the new people in town. And yes, I clump myself right in there because “hell000” I’m an introvert and with grown children no longer needing me in the classroom or on the soccer field or coordinating playdates-I’m on my own to find new friends. I very much appreciate the idea of being a wall scraper because nobody likes being the person on the outside looking in. Thanks for sharing this wonderful reminder to be bold.

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  2. Oh yes Natalie! I am right there with you. For me it’s so easy to “be busy” when I’m in awkward situations but I know I’ve benefited by people stepping out to say hi to me and I want to do the same in return!

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  3. Tina Dorward Tina Dorward says:

    As someone who is usually comfortable in groups, this was a very helpful insight into those who aren’t. Thanks for the “wall scraper” image. I have often gone up to people who seem to be a little on the outside to say hello but I haven’t really focused on that lately and so thank you for this important reminder.

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  4. Hi Tina! Thanks for stopping by to read. I’m so glad it was a helpful image for you. Us introverts are SO thankful for people like you 🙂

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  5. Wonderful post, Emilie. That’s one the best things we can do for each other. We all get down, even our pastors.

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  6. Thanks so much Janet! And yes – we all do. It’s important to always be on the look out to who we can say an encouraging word to 🙂

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  7. It only takes one person to make a connection. So true. As a fellow introvert, I relate with your struggles. But as you say, I can’t use it as an excuse to not reach out, not care, not love like Jesus does. Even if that means *yikes* talking to someone I don’t know. Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Hi Lisa,
    Sometimes it is pretty difficult to get the courage to talk to new people, but the Lord is always so good to give us the courage we need, isn’t He? 🙂

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