"Encouragement is free, and beyond measure in value." -William DeFoore-
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..."
-I Thessalonians 5:11-
Buoyancy. Only one small word, but to one who feels as though he or she is drowning, that one word makes all the difference.
One of the tragedies of the Titanic was that there were not enough lifeboats for the amount of people who were aboard; there were only 20 lifeboats and 2,200 passengers! There were life jackets, but the frigid water meant that the jackets would not be enough. In order to survive the conditions, people had to be plucked out of the water; they couldn't remain in it. As the ship went down, women and children were given priority, and sadly, some returned to land widows and fatherless. All in all, 1, 522 people lost their lives. Oh, if only they had been prepared!
We live in a world full of people who face dangerous heart conditions every day: icebergs of loss that they find themselves at the mercy of, cold, shattering waves of insecurity, loneliness, fear... waves that crash over them unexpectedly, wreck their hearts, and threaten to sink their souls.
According to one Titanic survivor, once the night sky became dark and starless, lights began to be lit aboard the different lifeboats, so they could stay together and accounted for: "The stars slowly disappeared, and in their place came the faint pink glow of another day. Then I heard, 'A light, a ship.' I could not, would not, look while there was a bit of doubt, but kept my eyes away. All night long I had heard, 'A light!' Each time it proved to be one of our other lifeboats, someone lighting a piece of paper, anything they could find to burn, and now I could not believe. Someone found a newspaper; it was lighted and held up. Then I looked and saw a ship. A ship bright with lights; strong and steady she waited, and we were to be saved. A straw hat was offered it would burn longer. That same ship that had come to save us might run us down. But no; she is still. The two, the ship and the dawn, came together, a living painting."
Who has been there for you in your times of trial? What encouraging people have been lifeboats or have been beacons for you to follow? Take a few moments and recall them by name.
It can be easy to be discouraged by the darkness around us, but we can all contribute to the survival of someone else. We can bring buoyancy and light to those around us by the words we speak. Stop and take stock of the people you interact with daily and be aware of them; look for ways to encourage them. They may be someone you know; they may be a stranger. We have to look outwardly to notice them. You never know who might be inwardly drowning and who needs your words to lift them out of a vast sea of hopelessness.
quote source: "The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912," EyeWitness to History www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000).