A Letter to the Encourager
To my fellow encourager in the struggle,
It took me over two hours to will myself out of the bed this morning. I can’t really explain it. I just couldn’t get up. I wish I could describe how I was feeling more eloquently, but, the only words I can manage to apply are utterly and completely drained. As familiar as this feeling has become over the years, the intensity of the exhaustion and sadness I feel doesn’t become easier to bear. I don’t think it ever will. I do know that I’ve been running from this feeling for weeks and attempting to avoid it by keeping myself drowned in work I care nothing about, mindlessly watching loud reality tv shows that give me a headache, and consuming unspeakable amounts of my old friend, chocolate.
I know I don’t just sink into depression like this for no reason. I’m a therapist. I know about triggers, chemical imbalances, genetics, and a host of other possible valid causes. But even beyond that, as a believer I like to try to think that God allows me to experience some of these feelings so that I can understand the depths of the pain and helplessness that others feel in order to better serve them. I like to believe that by faith that God can use all of the ugliness of this season to bring beauty into the next season. I want to trust that this suffering means that the enemy is trying to block me from walking boldly and confidently into my God given purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I know those things to be true. But I don’t feel them right now. My heart is hard. I feel so distant from God. I want someone to see and acknowledge my pain. I feel like i’m falling before everyone’s eyes and no one cares to notice.
But really, who encourages the encourager?
So many times as an encourager we exert so much of our mental, spiritual, and emotional energy pouring into others that we have nothing left for ourselves. We fill up others with all we have because, well, it almost seems like we can’t help but to do so. And then, our cups are left dry. We can’t blame anyone else for the poor distribution of our resources. All they did was take what we offered. We chose to give. We chose to ignore our psychological and physiological warning signs. We chose to run ourselves into the ground.
Yet, I still wonder how it is that the people walking around full, the people we gave so much of ourselves to, are incapable of realizing that we are drowning under the weight of our emptiness. It would reason that since they are full, they could recognize our barrenness. But our families, friends, strangers, etc. are busy focusing on their own personal barometers that they couldn’t possibly begin to take the time to notice how we are existing. And many times, we don’t hold them accountable to be there. We let them get away with their lack of support. We make another harmful choice, to suffer in silence.
For the sake of length i’m going to save you the reading and provide you with my hypothesis to the question I asked your earlier. Who encourages the encourager? The encourager has to encourage themselves. As an encourager, we already have the gift inside of us. But we have to dig deeper to access it for ourselves. We have to learn to conserve our energy and peace. We have to protect ourselves better. We have to make sure we do things that fill us up. Every. Single. Day. And most importantly, as we are patient and compassionate with others, we have to learn to be patient with ourselves. Change takes time. Healing takes time. We will get through this.
I will get through this.
From my heart to yours,