When I was in college I had a fabulous friend named Julie. She was so much fun to be with. She made me laugh, like the deep down belly kind of laugh. When I was struggling, she would brighten my day. Julie laughed loud (like me) and with her mouth agape (also like me!).
There was a time when we were both hedged in by unhealthy relationships. Julie, by a group of friends and myself, by a disastrous dating relationship. We were both working towards freedom and failing miserably.
We heard a message in chapel one day that was life-changing. The message was centered around Barnabas and how God used him to encourage Paul and the Apostles. At the end of that message, I remember looking at Julie and calling her Barney. Of course, it stuck.
She was and is my Barney the encourager…and I am hers.
23 years later I still remember this message because it burned something in my heart. Life is so much better surrounded by people who support and encourage your dreams and calling. That day, I committed to being an encourager. This has not been an easy task for a Northern, sarcastic woman. If I am being honest here…some days are better than others. Again, perfection is not the goal!
I could use a million people in my life like Julie. In fact, God has blessed me with many encouraging relationships through the years. These relationships have often sustained me when I have been forced to navigate the rough waters of life.
There have been times when parenting has been too hard, overwhelming, and unfulfilling. My friends have encouraged me that God is my source of fulfillment…not my children. They continue to cheer me on to never give up and never give in.
There have been seasons when marriage has been too much work. God has placed Godly people in our lives that have helped us heal and grow in our relationship. Marriage is so much better surrounded by other Godly couples who are committed to loving one another. I am selfish here on this one; they have to be fun and laugh at some of my jokes.
Is there ever enough money?? Financial stress can pull me at the seams, but being home with my children has been a game changer for my family. Thankfully, I have had women support me in this. On those days when I am about to lose my ever living mind…there is always a friend to encourage me to stay the course.
Ministry catastrophes have almost crushed me. I would love to say that God is all I need as I pursue my calling in the safety of the church. Oh how naive I was to think that Christians would always be honest and always be true. There have been times I only made it through because my friends and leaders have encouraged me to never give up…never give up on God or on His purpose for my life.
I have only survived some of these heartbreaking times because I had a friend, a Barney, encouraging me and speaking life over my situation.
STOP HANGING AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE AND WATCH YOUR LIFE CHANGE.
If you take anything away from this post, please hear when I say that negative people will further destroy and crush any hope you have for your life. Without hope or vision it is so easy for the enemy of your soul to discourage you. The enemy uses negative people to kill and steal and destroy our dreams.
Even if it is a close family member, do whatever it takes to protect and guard your heart. You can respectfully establish boundaries, even with your parents and in-laws, that allow you to function with respect and dignity while keeping them far from your heart. If you need help with this, find a good Christian counselor. Healthy boundaries are their specialty.
I pray that when people walk away from being with me, they walk away knowing that God wants more for their lives and that their hope rests in Jesus. I was born to be an encourager and I love to be with encouraging people. It just makes the difficult times bearable and the good times amazing.
Find a Barney! Find 10. You can never have too many encouraging people in your life.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.