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Source of Encouragement

by Leah Nichols  
7/05/2010 / Dating

"We all wanna be loved. We all want just a little respect....Tell me what's wrong with that?" dc Talk

As single Christian women, we often long for a husband simply for the fact that we desire someone to be our greatest supporter. We want someone who will encourage us daily, speak life and truth to us, and hold us accountable to help us grow in our walk with Christ.

These desires are valid, and very important. God spoke in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good that man should be alone, and if men should not be alone, neither should we!

I have observed many times among my single acquaintances, however, that in their desire for words of affirmation and encouragement, some women have placed themselves in a relationship only because the man knows what to say to make their heart melt. When it comes down to the man's character, or whether the Lord has called them to a relationship in that moment, these women struggle to find justification for remaining in that relationship. They are torn between the negative aspects of disobeying God, and the positive affirmation they receive frequently from their partner.

Absolutely we should desire to have a source of encouragement! In Hebrews 3:12-15, God lays out a foolproof plan for our walk - we are to "exhort one another DAILY" (emphasis mine). Several years ago God showed me that Scripture in a new light, in that we need encouragement daily! I realized that those times in which I struggled the most were often when I lacked others around me to speak truth. When I had daily encouragement through roommates or friends, or even simply the accountability of attending church a few days in a row, my walk with God remained on track.

The problem comes when I long for a relationship with a man for the sake of such encouragement and accountability. The Lord has placed many people in my life in order to build me up and spur me on. Some are older and wiser men and women of faith, and others are newer believers with greater zeal and passion for God. Still others participate in the same ministries I do, or are at a similar place in their walk with the Lord, and can relate to the things I am going through. Some I speak to on a regular basis, others I only see from time to time, yet all have the ability to push me forward in the faith.

If I seek a man to meet all my encouragement needs, though, no matter who he is or how strong his walk with the Lord, he will feel overwhelmed and burdened by the task. God places a multitude of people around every person in order that their burdens may be shared among many. This is the same reason why caregivers who work in homes need someone to replace them on a consistent basis - they simply cannot meet every single need at all times.

Even more critical is our need to be discerning when choosing our relationships. Yes, we want to be loved, respected, treasured. Words like "you are beautiful" and "I love you" can comfort our souls and bring life to our weary hearts. Yet Proverbs 28:23 warns us of the difference between truth and flattery: "He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue." (NKJV) And no, that does not just apply to men!

One expectation I desire from my future husband is to have the boldness to speak truth. I have seen a few of my friends in relationships based on flattery, and eventually those words, which were so attractive at first, begin to repulse. Without the character to back up their avowed "love", the real hearts of the men are revealed. True feelings do come out when the fire of daily life wears one down!

If each partner in the relationship seeks accountability and truth-speaking in their daily life, though, and the wisdom to keep the relationships they have with others who speak truth to them, neither will burn out. In fact, they will find that others are more than willing to spur them on in their relationship, thus strengthening their bond and pushing them forward.

Who has God placed in your life for encouragement? If He has not brought you a man yet, are you seeking to be spurred on by the women around you?

Remember, these women will also be there for you when you are walking through the fires of marriage - you need women who will speak truth and not flattery.

If you have a man in your life, what kind of character does he have? Does he say the same things over and over, or does he have the courage to call out the things he sees in your life that you need to change to become more like Christ?

Are you willing to hear those hard things? Do you simply seek words that feel good, or do you crave those nuggets of truth that challenge you to move forward in your daily walk?

Above all sources of encouragement, whether from a man or from the people around us, God has the unique ability to speak directly to our hearts. If you can, take the time to read Psalm 139 and let the Lord speak His truth to your heart. He indeed knows each of us from the inside out, and does not need flattery to call out those things that are dearest to us.

May you find the encouragement you need each day!

Leah writes in her spare time....whenever it's available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.

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