Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed by Sydnee Mela and JD Gravitt
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (Philippians 2:1-2, ESV).
Therefore encourage one another and build one other up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV).
Have you ever been in a moment of frustration, difficulty or insecurity and suddenly found yourself met by unexpected words of kindness from a friend? Whether it’s genuine, positive feedback on a project you feel stuck on or a simple compliment on your appearance, it’s astounding how quickly a word of encouragement can lift your head and shift your perspective. Most of the time, an encouraging word has the power to pull you out of your own personal drama, and bring clarity to the reality of the moment. Every person in our community can recall countless moments where a simple word of kindness from one of our friends or leaders has helped us overcome our false perception of a situation and called us into a true understanding. Encouragement is essential to community living because it is the very nature of Heaven itself.
As the Cageless Birds collective, we believe that encouragement is vital in everything we do—friendships, discipleship, creative projects, groundskeeping, office work and everything in between. In order to learn, to grow and to develop, we must have both permission to fail and those who will champion us in the midst of failure, refusing to let us stay in a place of discouragement. As our dear friend David Burbach says, “Encouragement is the table where community feasts.” Encouragement is the place where we cultivate friendship and build trust. It is the place where we are invited into a more authentic view of ourselves. It is the place where we are formed in family and where we begin to believe that we are really supported by a loving Father.
Year-round, our community practices rhythms of encouragement. Encouragement breathes on the land as we gather every month for our community birthday nights, making handmade cards and crafting words of love to champion the next year of our friends’ lives. In our discipleship seasons it takes the shape of Open Mic Nights, making space for every student to share, be heard and celebrated. In our creative seasons, it looks like exchanging ideas, projects and songs, opening ourselves up to be seen by family. This month in particular, it has become tangible in the generosity and support shown for Molly’s Kickstarter campaign. At every corner, encouragement is marking our family and moving our hearts, and it will continue to change us as long as our hearts are soft and willing to receive it.
This week, we encourage you to ask the Father for eyes to see how you can support and encourage someone. Open your heart up to the Father who longs to see His kids cheering each other on, motivating them in love and kindness. Ask Him for an idea and be faithful to follow through with it. Maybe He wants to make a card with you for a friend. Perhaps He’s inviting you to rally around someone in your community. Or maybe He wants to team up to speak hope into someone’s life. Perhaps he’s inspiring you send encouragement to our community through Molly’s Kickstarter! Whatever the case may be, open up a conversation with the Father and let your heart join in the excitement of what He can do through powerful, simple encouragement.