January has been awesome. Full of powerful exchanges between lots of different folks with a heavy emphasis on encouragement. Which seems cool on the surface. I mean, who doesn’t want to be encouraged?
Sometimes, encouragement doesn’t take the form of joyful praise and agreement. Sometimes encouragement looks like a pumped-up, aggressive coach barking at you while you feel half-alive and broke-down, struggling to cling to a hope and a prayer. That kind of encouragement is the sharpening kind caused by friction instead of grease. But it can be alienating and sometimes downright alarming if you focus on the delivery, the friction, or your hope for relief during the sharpening process.
Really though, it’s kind of amazing.
How incredible is it for someone to put themselves, put your relationship on the line to create friction that sharpens you? That kind of willingness requires a heart that holds on to hope in the face of devastating adversity, when hope is most elusive… A heart that sees the true, best, real you underneath all the mess when friendship is most elusive…
Which is really when we need it most.
While we should all be grateful for the cheerleaders in our lives, it’s the people who told us what we least want to hear who help us grow the most… Once we are able to get ourselves out of the way and hear the truth in what they’re saying.
We’re usually so distracted by our discomfort, we don’t consider how hard it must have been for them to share an inconvenient truth, to hold the mirror to our ugliest mask.
And to be fair, not everyone shares this sharpening info in a way that will make it easy to receive. At all.
But if we keep what they say long enough, we can push aside anything untrue, sift through to the treasure of wisdom at the root of their message and hold on to that.
As the second month of 2014 rolls in, I hope you find some encourage-ers, some friends, some partners who will nurture your best even when it means entering a sharpening process neither of you will enjoy. The thing about sharpening, about muscle building, physical training, stretching is, it just ain’t pretty. Knives emit sparks when they strike metal, and muscles strain, ache and burn when exercised.
When you feel that stretching, consider for a moment whether you’re in a place of sharpening and remember the outcome is a more fit, mo’ betta you.