Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Power of Encouragement!

Our oldest son, Jackson, had a swim meet last night!  At last week's meet, he came in last place in his heat swimming freestyle, and this week he took 1st place!!  We were so proud of him both times, but his face was extra joyous this time.  He started to really believe in himself as a swimmer.  He walked over to me and said in shock, "Mom... I won!"  I snapped a picture because the look of joy and shock on his face was priceless to me.

He swam the next race with even more confidence.  It was the backstroke, and he took 1st in his heat again!!  The next event was a relay.  When it came time for his turn, he was intensely waiting for his moment.

I yelled out for him to dive really far.  He put more umph into his jump than ever before and did a front flip into the water instead of a dive!  Abe and I were rolling laughing because we knew his body was just so full of excitement that it flipped instead!

Jackson finished the meet feeling extra happy for his achievements.  What touched me was how much harder he tried when he knew he was capable of doing more!

After the meet, Abe drove the van home with all the kids while I ran the 3 miles home.  I had been running off and on at the indoor track, but this was my first outdoor run since the fall.  It was a LOT harder than I thought it would be.

Feeling in the competitive mode after the swim meet, I saw a guy running in front of me on the sidewalk, so I decided to race him... unbeknownst to him.  I thought that maybe I could gain on him on the hills, but my legs hurt and my side started to cramp.  He didn't even know I was behind him or how hard I was trying to beat him.

Some bikers passed me, and I began to wish I was on a bike instead.  Finally, the man hit his turn-around spot and ran towards me.  I smiled and waved as if I wasn't just considering him as my fierce competitor.  As I continued to run, I had a harder time keeping up my pace because I was tired and my "competition" was gone.

I felt really slow and started to let my head flop to the side as if it was too heavy to even lift.  As I ran, I started telling myself how bad I was doing and how slow I was.  I was really getting hard on myself when all of a sudden the same bikers came back around and passed me.  I smiled at them, and the lady yelled out, "Hey!  You're really FAST!!!!"  I told her how sweet she was in my breathless voice.

...but because she said I was fast, I FELT FAST!!  I picked up my head and picked up my pace and started to run with heart again.  I didn't even need my competitor.  Someone thought this old body was still fast, so I felt faster!!

Her encouragement really made me happy.  A stranger told me I was fast, so I lifted my head and ran faster.  I continued to think about the power of encouragement...

Jackson was encouraged because he saw proof that he was better than he thought he was.  He started the season with a swim instructor (not from the school) who said he would be laps behind all the rest.  He ignored the instructor's opinion and listened only to the positive.

He told me later that he had prayed that he would swim his very best.  With a prayerful heart, he entered the waters with an encouraged heart.  That encouragement made him swim even faster than he (or the swim instructor) previously believed he could.  With each success, he believed in himself just a little bit more until he actually flipped into the water!

Wow!  How many more things could I help my children accomplish if I pointed out more of the good things they do?

As I was typing this, Tyson decided to be creative...  He poured little white beads everywhere underneath our little blooming tree in the front yard.

I burst out with, "Why in the world would you do that?"

"...because it was beautiful," he said.

At first I told him he was going to have to have a really firm talk with his father.  Then I considered my goal to be more encouraging... I decided to try to see the good in what he was really trying to do.  He honestly wanted to do something beautiful.

I bit my tongue (wondering how we'll clean it up when the tree is not in bloom anymore) and said, "Wow!  That's very artistic."  He looked at me confused and warily asked, "Do I still have to have a firm talk with Daddy?"  I told him he didn't, but we'd just wait to see how Daddy likes it... it is actually pretty. :-)  His smile lifted quite a bit higher when he saw that I appreciated his artwork.
My goal to be more encouraging does NOT mean that I am giving up my disciplinary efforts.  It just means that I am trying to SEE the positive, encouraging side of other's actions.  We can be encouraging people!!  I believe that encouragement works miracles... I felt my own head lift, Jackson's body flip a little higher, and Tyson's smile lift... all because of encouragement!