Recently, at church, the big idea of the sermon was the idea that when we encourage others, we in turn become encouraged. Just that morning I had reservations to a “pity party” for one and was focused on my need for encouragement … basically what I wanted from others.
I’m an old-school, snail-mail, card sender and instead of seeing what sending cards was doing for me, I was stuck in the “what do I get” and “when does it happen” for me mode that morning. Our pastor and God’s perfect timing straightened me out that Sunday. You see I was “getting” all along, and it was “happening” for me with each and every card sent. When we encourage others we actually become encouraged ourselves from that act of serving. When we see or hear back from someone we have encouraged, it fills our heart and motivates us to encourage others that much more.
Just this month I read a post about the amount of negativity on a Facebook page. This page is actually set up to inform, assist and encourage foster parents. Yet, like in life, it becomes all too easy to dump criticism and complaints. A recent study showed people generally have a ratio of 1:6 when it comes to encouraging words to criticizing words. It is unfortunately far easier to point out the negative than to put a positive spin on something.
I think we have the misconception that people who are positive or encouraging to others have it all together or that things are going well for them. Many times it’s just the opposite because they know more than anyone what is needed. Having it “all together” is NOT a prerequisite to being kind or encouraging.
We need each other
“Easy” is not a word I would use to describe fostering but “alone” is not one I would use either. We need each other to lean on, learn from and build up. Negativity, finger pointing blame and criticism simply tear down instead of building up. What if we flipped the 1:6 ratio? What if whenever we thought of something good to say, we said it? What if when we felt the need for encouragement, we encouraged someone else? I can’t imagine any of this would make things worse.
Dear foster parents, you are doing hard (and heart) work every single day. Days that feel like there is no forward movement, but actually backward sliding. The ways in which you give of yourself and the daily sacrifices you make will not all be noticed or acknowledged. You are not alone in this and what you are needing at this moment is felt by many others as well.
So send a card, call someone to share encouragement, post some affirming words or a beautiful picture. You will soon feel the courage you are giving and building in others come straight back to you!
– Betsy DuKatz, adoptive parent and prior foster parent
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services recruits, trains and provides support services for foster families. The need for foster parents in Wisconsin is great. Contact us to receive information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, or visit our website to learn more.