The encouragers in our lives are those who have helped us take heart an find courage to become the people GOD intends us to be. The discouragers are the ones who disapproved of any dreams or desires we had to follow our hearts rather than our heads, (our theirs) in choosing our life's pursuit.
God gives us encouraging voices throughout our life, and often times we just needed to learn HOW to hear them. A small list of those who inspired or encouraged me to believe in myself as an artist for one was my paternal grandmother Florance LaMarche, Meme. She would show me how to use mostly natures items to make beautiful things. One in particular was making Hollyhock dolls. Than there were the dandylion chain bracelets, seashell paper weights. From household and craft materials we would make yarn dolls, and bologna "colorform" shapes on the refrigerator, catalog trees. And oh the wonders we would create with fabric! She also had a button tin that were worth more than any jewels to me. I would count, separate, and admire them for hours on end. Her best and most creative masterpieces were what came from the kitchen stovetop and oven! But the most creative part of meme was her spoken language; a little bit of English, more of the French and than just a bit more of something else. Zinc for sink, fark for fart, and her favorite saying, "make any difference to me." Her laugh shook everyone around her, even if you weren't part of the discussion going on. Watching comedies with her were made even funnier because she would get the joke and laugh to the point of wetting herself a good 15 minutes after the joke was told.
Whatever I created she loved and praised me over and over for, telling me, "C'est tres beau." Than she would take my face into her hands and kiss me right on the lips, where I could feel those little spikey mustache and chin hairs poking me. I LOVED her kisses, and she always ended them with a reverberating, "mawmp!
|Meme at age 16|
Another very encouraging woman who was very influential in uncovering and giving authentic reflective feedback and teaching me my artistic endeavors was Mrs. Ranger. She was a widow from our church that we attended when I was 12 years of age. My parents volunteered much of their time helping her with household repairs and cleaning she was unable to do for herself, for she was in her 70's. A very talented artist, in drawing, oil and watercolor painting. Beautifully soft spoken and sharp looking. She taught me how to hold my paint brushes, shade in charcoal, make prize winning pictures in colored chalk, which became my favorite medium to work in. It was her works of art that set me on fire to become an artist. Not as a famous painter or even in selling works of art like herself. Just for the love of it. I also loved, loved, loved, writing. Set impression in my mind was to be an illustrationist. I loved the works of Hans Christian Andersen and would imagine the pictures he painted in words, and I would put them down on paper what the characters looked like in my storybook minds vision. It's one thing to word our a vision and an entirely different world in giving them visual character. That was the path I would pursue, so sure I could live happily in a small cottage by the sea, with one small hurricane lamp on a tidy desk filled with colored pencils, colored chalks of course, paint brushes and a small pallet of water paints and lots and lots of graphite pencils and soft spongy erasers and a never ending supply of paper. In this small cottage I would have a comfortable, fall full into the luscious linens and blankets bed, that gave me a dreamy sleep where God would bring to light my next days endeavors. It would be heated with a small wood stove, fired by the drifts of wood shards I gathered on my mornings walk upon the deserted beach, with my pet companion falling in line with my bare feet sinking into the wave tumbled sand, leaving my prints for whom ever wanted to follow. Albeit the world was sure to get in the way. How will you eat? How will you pay for utilities? How will you survive? Well, you see, I was going to be an artist, and, well...
|Meme as I will always remember her|
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. This verse implies that God has a plan for our lives, one that we would do well to seek rather than relying on our own preferenced shaking plans. I really didn't believe that God had an interest in my personal life or the development of it. I thought He just sat by silently observing and when I "thought" I had messed up, I was taught to go into "the tiny closet where there sat a man, like the Wizard of Oz, and tell him your wrongs and he will penitence you with prayers to say and all will be forgiven." Oh, well that's pretty simple, mess up, pray, mess up, pray.... I did not learn what it meant to have an intimate and personal relationship with this God I'd heard of, until I was in my early thirties. What I learned was that God is our greatest encourager. If and WHEN we firmly place our hand in His, we can relearn that childlike trust we need to develop a vision of who He wants us to be. But an important initial step in coming along side and giving yourself to His service is to forgive ourselves and more importantly others.
If we truly want to regain our dreams and start to give birth to the process of them, we must first let go of the past. Forgiveness is not just something we give to another person, It is a gift we give to ourselves, freeing ourselves from the bad feelings about whatever that person did. But in order to understand forgiveness and to truly feel forgiveness, we should recognize that forgiveness is NOT the same as telling that other person that what they did or did not do, or what you needed done or said, is "okay". It was NOT okay; it was REAL, it was NEGATIVE, and because of these things and actions, kept you from having the confidence you needed to pursue your dreams or think better of yourself. Whatever their motives or lack of believing, if they even had one, was damaging and wrong. It's not saying you need to immediately forgive them or even admitting that maybe you have been too hard on them all these years. What it is, is your willingness to truly let go of all the negative feelings you have because of what YOU FEEL that person did that hurt you.
The discouragers may or may not have even known that their words or actions caused us to give up on our goals, but regardless, the truth of their discouragement was the same. It left us lacking in ourselves, the courage or belief in following our dreams. It eroded us by discouraging messages coming form most often the people who knew and were suppose to love us the most. We also need to understand that forgiveness is not the same thing as allowing ourselves to be victims of another's words or offense done to us.
But in the end, those words only have as much power as we give or gave them. Why should we harbor resentment or anger against someone who discouraged us when we have a Heavenly Father who has given us these gifts, and abilities. He gives them to us for a reason, and we are to find that reason and not let it go to the wayside. He knows us by name, and all the needs we have, the dreams we have, the hurts we have. Stop letting the "discouragers" take up room in your heart, soul and mind. Focus on God and instead give room to the encouragers, they really are all around you if you look for the sunshine through the rain.