In this year of unprecedented EXTRA, we are matched with the opportunity to rise to new levels of creativity, compassion, and courage. As MoMs, we have had to pull out all the stops and creatively keep our kids on track during a pandemic. When parks, malls, and playdates all shut down, we got busy churning out new ideas to keep those babes engaged! We saw uncertainty and economic hardship affect those closest to us, and we became conduits of compassion and generosity. The greater the 2020 EXTRA, the more extraordinary we became. That took courage. That is the word that came to mind when I witnessed families, mothers, and fathers facing the challenges of distance learning, home offices, childcare limits, and the loss of life as we once knew it.
So, let’s talk about courage. As MoMs there's a built-in tenacity to handle the unexpected and all the extra babies at our feet... but I would venture to guess you wouldn’t automatically label what you do on the daily as courageous. In our minds we relegate courage to a quality possessed by firefighters when they rush into a burning building, or an officer charging towards an active shooter situation. Yes, those moments take courage... so does raising a family, maintaining a marriage, relationships, and making tough decisions. Our type of courage doesn’t always make the news cycle, yet it is a key to not only surviving, but thriving in this EXTRA world.
How do we get EXTRA amounts of courage necessary for life? I AM so glad you asked!
Encourage: to put courage in someone. It’s simple. Encouragement is a powerful tool, like a super food for our soul. That superfood of encouragement is only helpful to the busy MOM if we eat it! Let’s consume some encouragement! I have for you three ways to receive EXTRA courage for our EXTRA:
- Encourage yourself. Don’t forget to feed yourselves, ladies! As moms, we do this occasionally with actual mealtimes. Have you ever prepared all the kids’ plates, cups, napkins, served the nicely diced entrees, reminded of manners, then cleaned up after the plates are cleared and not taken a bite yourself? So many times, I have done this, and then later reached for junk food that really doesn’t fill me up or give me the nutrients needed to keep me moving. Pay attention, MOMs, to what you are consuming for your soul. The content you watch/listen to/read really does affect how courageous you feel. Position yourself to be filled with encouragement by turning off the negative and feeding on things that are uplifting. Find what inspires you and work that into your day somehow. One thing I like to do is when I’m in the bathroom (alone time), rather than thoughtless social media scrolling, I put on a YouTube channel I enjoy following that encourages me. May only be a few minutes, and I may not get to finish it, but it is about being intentional.
The second aspect to encouraging yourself is self-talk. You believe yourself more than you believe anyone around you. When your thoughts spiral down into those negative patterns, it sucks the courage right out of you! A couple key ideas: don’t believe everything you say when you're tired. Also, say the right things out loud, even if you don’t fully feel it; hearing your voice speak courage is life-giving.
- Encourage others. I love the simple definition of encouraging as putting courage in someone. We can be dispensers of courage! The best superfood is the one you don’t prepare yourself! Be on the lookout to pour courage into those you love around you. I like the rule of thumb: if you think something good about someone twice, then say it to them. We are not historically good at seeking encouragement out from others, which means most of the people around us are not good at it either! Especially our MoM friends. Pay close attention to our tribe MoMs’ need for encouragemen
A couple pro-tips: be authentic, don’t drum up flattery. The more honest the encouragement, the more courage is added! Secondly, be intentional. When you see a friend or child or spouse rock it, then tell them! I love to see my loves light up when they drink deeply from encouragement. You know the look, it’s as if they can conquer the world. Courage!
- Don’t isolate yourself. Wait, what does this have to do with courage? I’ll tell you. Isolation is a thief of courage. Two things happen when we are isolated: we get no superfood gifts of encouragement from others, and discouragement takes over our thoughts. Frankly, we are social creatures, designed for connection and to help each other. Especially this year with all the social distancing, there is a greater need for connecting with others! We all have blind spots in our thinking. When we pull away from others, we can’t see all the good and the ‘bad’ is amplified.
Discouragement is such a lie, and it speaks the loudest to us when we are isolated and alone. When you find yourself heading down this path, remember that you're not alone. We all face discouragement. Fight hard to connect to the people and things that encourage you.
You know we all face situations that are tough, even more so this year. Our situations, however, do not have to determine our level of courage. It is in those EXTRA times that we need to especially focus on fueling our courage levels. My lasting wish is that you find this blog encouraging and it inspires you to be dispensers of courage. First for yourself, then for your sweet loves surrounding you, then for the world! Go get it MoMs!
“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t be discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take!” -Joshua 1:9