Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Be An Encourager

This is a "self portrait" of Chuck Close, a famous American painter.  His story is remarkable on so  many levels, and as I listened to him talk about his life this morning on television, I was again really touched because of his will to succeed in spite of so many telling him he could not, and pointing out his shortcomings instead of his abilities.

Each and every one of us needs an "encourager" in our lives.  So many times negative parents, teachers and friends (if you can call a "basement person" a friend) say "oh, you can't do that you are not smart enough, you are not tall enough, you are not talented enough....it is out of your reach."

Believe me people, NOTHING is out of you reach if you strive and believe in yourself.  I will be your encourager right now and tell you that YOU can achieve your dreams.  Chuck Close was an awkward, clumsy child who could not succeed in sports and athletics, which made life even more difficult, because he was also dyslexic and had been told he would never be able to make it in college.  People called him lazy and stupid.  Then, his father (his one and only encourager) died when he was only eleven years old.  But, in spite of that and his Mother's cancer illness and other adversities, this man gritted his teeth and sought refuge in his art and succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams.

I was not fortunate enough to have parents who were encouragers in my life.  In fact, quite the contrary.  Every time I tried something I was told I was not smart enough, not tall enough, too clumsy, too lazy...well, you know the drill.  But, for some reason I did not believe the negative naysayers in my life.  I was a strong willed person who thought "well, YOU may think I can't do it, but I will prove to you that I can!"  As a result I have had a very adventurous and fulfilling life.  Oh, I am not saying I didn't have my share of difficulties and problems, but by forging ahead, and meeting some great encouragers along the way, I have accomplished so much more than my parents ever gave me credit for. At one particularly difficult time in my life, a wonderful Counselor told me to make a list of all the things I "could" do and all the things I "couldn't."  As it turned out, the list of could items was much longer than the things that I couldn't.  It was an "AHAH!" moment for me.  The light bulb finally came on and I realized that I could probably do most anything that I chose to do if I was willing to apply myself fully to it.  My world only had to be as small as I chose it to be.  I didn't have to let the limitations set by others define my life. 

My stubborn personality helped me succeed, but the very sad thing is that so many children who have the ability to succeed are squashed by parents and teachers who rain on their parade.  So many talented children who might dare to be a little different, are often discouraged and told to choose another path.
As a parent, grandparent, teacher and even just as a person of the world, you have a responsibility to lift up others and encourage them to reach for the stars.  I believe when we step on the dreams of another, we are hurting society as a whole.  Some of the most brilliant persons who ever lived were virtual "outcasts" and "misfits" as children.  They were the "square pegs" that everyone kept trying to push into the round hole.

Unfortunately, my parents are gone now, and I have to tell you that I never did hear those encouraging words from them.  But, God did put people in my path time after time who became those encouraging "parents" that I never had at home.  We can't choose our parents, but we can choose who we want to spend time with, and I encourage you to seek out those people who will encourage you to strive for more, to reach for the stars and fulfill your dreams whatever they may be.

If you are a parent, please encourage your children to reach for their dreams.  If you are a grandparent, please encourage your grandchildren.  If you are a "person of the world" encourage SOMEONE to aspire to something greater.  As you head out into the world today, please be someone's "encourager."  Lift someone up.  Root someone on.  And reach for the stars!

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