It was such a dark night in my soul. The years have blurred the details of it somewhat, but never in a lifetime will I forget that darkness, or the cold that accompanied it.
How & when that dreadful stretch unfolded are details that aren't really necessary for this particular reflection. What is important, is how one woman (an unbeliever) lit a fire that kept my soul's Winter at bay and Spring's hope alive. Her name is Georgia, and she is the face I envision whenever I see or hear the word encourage.
Merriam tells us that it means:
1a : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : hearten b : to attempt to persuade : urge
2: to spur on : stimulate
3: to give help or patronage to
Georgia had been through horrendous losses in her life. Her husband and two of her three children had been swept from life, and her arms in a devastating plane crash just years before she & I met. When it came to pain and to living out life on pain's heels, Georgia had street cred with me. She knew of what she spoke.
So what did she give me that is so invaluable to me even today? These words: I believe in you.
Oh, she said a lot of other things too, though nothing I can remember today. For whatever reason, her encouragement was all I needed to cling to that knot I'd tied in the end of my proverbial rope. Georgia said I was capable of hanging on so, by-gum, I would!
What simple words: I believe in you. What power they wield. What possibilities they inspire. What encouragement they impart.
By the way: I believe in YOU!
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration,
encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Therefore encourage one another with these
words (about the Lord's return).
1 Thessalonians 4:18
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep (dead),
we may live together with him.
Therefore encourage one another and
build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you
some spiritual gift to make you strong—
that is, that you and I may
be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
... encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.