Words of Encouragement

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When 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself, ending her life by suicide, the Massachusetts teenager touched off a national discussion about bullying. Ultimately, six of her classmates were prosecuted for crimes related to her suicide, leading to six guilty pleas in May 2011. Phoebe was one of many young adults involved in self-inflicted deaths prompted by bullying. Such tragic occurrences, when individuals lose hope and feel they cannot turn to anyone for help, often show people how little they know about each other. But these horrible events do not need to occur.

The greatest satisfactions in life come from investing in the lives of others. In my own life as a schoolteacher, I often see children facing difficulties at home, internalizing feelings that affect their whole mood and outlook. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that about one in 10 adults suffer from depression. Among the 235,067 adult respondents in the sample for survey years 2006 and 2008, 9.0 percent met criteria for current depression, including 3.4 percent who met criteria for major depression (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 59(38); 1229-1235).

Looking at this, you may wonder what impact we can have on others. If we can reach out to one another in a caring way, we could turn someone’s day around not even knowing it.

Our lives are often hurried, rushing from place to place—often without giving a second thought to how we responded to that server at the restaurant, the TSA at the airport, the toll collector on the interstate or the postal worker. When asked why we act a certain way, we may be quick to fire back about the others they treated us. But we are told, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also.… And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:27-29, 31).

As conditions continue to worsen and society falls apart, Christian women should strive to keep our thoughts and words focused on the One who loved us first, loving others in that way (1 John 4:11). Scripture tells us that, in the “last days,” people will be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

People want to be a part of something; to feel like they belong. When others are in the wrong, we must remember more than ever that we are responsible for our own actions, and that we need to stand up for what is good. Christian women have a unique capacity for using their gifts and talents to reach out. As a woman, I am coming to see more areas and opportunities to help where a little can go a long way. No matter what our station in life may be, we as Christian women can find ways to encourage others. Older people need encouragement. Children need encouragement. Our family members and friends need encouragement. Someone is always looking for another to depend on, whether for advice or just listening. Our actions and words reveal, day by day, who we are. Let us all strive, as faithful Christian women, to be encouragers to those around us!