“You are worth a lot, Lydia …
“You’re so great that you don’t fit in with the world and its lower standards.
“God’s got someone in mind for you. And eventually you’ll marry him …
“Don’t worry. You’re very beautiful and very pure.
“So don’t think that you’re not worth anything.”
Those were texts that made the tears run down my face.
Texts that I wrote down because they nourished my soul.
Texts that came when I had hit a low point and was doubting myself.
Texts from a brother in Christ who knows how to speak truth into my life.
It can be a dangerous road to walk between genuine encouragement and flirtation masked as encouragement – both of which I have received and given at various points in my life. How one distinguishes between the two can be tricky, and I’m probably not the expert in it. I’m certainly not advocating constant gushing of praise toward the opposite sex, and I’m not fishing for compliments myself in this post.
But what I can testify to is the power of encouragement and affirmation in the right settings and at the right times from our brothers in Christ. Sometimes it can make all the difference in someone’s life – and I think we need that reminder that it’s okay to speak those truths into others’ lives and not be afraid of what they will think.
But first the why.
Why do we need to encourage each other, especially as single brothers and sisters? Well, it might seem obvious, but largely because we don’t have a built-in daily encourager. Those who are married, engaged, or even dating have a ready-made partner to daily affirm them (and if their partner is not doing so, they’d better re-evaluate!).
It’s easy for those couples to forget that the singles can get discouraged, lonely, burnt-out, or filled with hopelessness. When one is the primary encourager for oneself, it’s not hard to question if what they’re telling themselves is actually true.
We need to hear it from each other to validate and affirm one another in what we value in one another. We need genuine reminders of truth – truth of who we are in Christ and truth about how He sees us. The devil’s lies creep in swiftly and crowd out the truth, dragging us down in a sea of despair.
That’s when brothers and sisters in Christ, who know each other well, need to come alongside one another and give words of life. We often doubt giving those words, questioning how we’ll be received and if our intentions might be misunderstood, but most of the time we need those affirmations – and we need to be bold enough to give them. Additionally in doing so, we are practicing giving respect, support, and love – which perhaps one day we will do in marriage.
But now comes the question – how does one differentiate between genuine encouragement and “attention with a deeper motive”? Clearly we can’t know anyone’s motives for sure, but there might be a few guideposts along the way to help identify. Take these with a grain of salt, not as gospel truth, and know there will probably always be an exception to each situation.
– Affirmations should not be so frequent as to signify a deeper attraction. Daily (or even weekly) texts or messages with “encouragement” might have the best of intentions, but at that point, it’s pretty clear that that person is taking up a lot of space in the other person’s mind. Every once in a while, thanking a single brother or sister in Christ or telling them that we appreciate them and what they’re doing is perfectly acceptable and necessary to remind us that we’re not alone or unloved.
– There should be an established friendship with mutual trust and respect. If you just met or hardly ever talk, the affirmations might not be perceived as genuine, since you feel like the other person doesn’t know you that well (however – sometimes out of the blue encouragements from old friends that I haven’t talked to in a long time are exactly what I need).
– Affirmations should be free of risky, double-meaning phrases like “Love you!” – unless you truly know that your relationship is very brotherly/sisterly
Of course if you want to be pursuing a girl, then ignore those rules and encourage the heck out of her. (And then actually ask her if you two can start a relationship.)
The goal is not to create more awkward social tension than is necessary, but to remind us – brothers and sisters in Christ – that we need words of encouragement to keep going in life. We need to know we’re not alone – that we believe in each other and that we’re proud of each other.
God has given me a plethora of brothers in Christ who have encouraged me so well over the years. I am grateful for the way they have taken care of me as a sister and helped me face difficult times in my life. I hope I can do the same for them as we continue to walk on life’s journey together.
We need each other. And we need to remind each other of our worth in Christ. That’s the beauty of the body of Christ. He’s created us to be there for one another.
So what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and text someone today to remind them of why they are valued. It just might be the most important thing they hear all day.
Brothers, We Need Your Affirmation
“You are worth a lot, Lydia …