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Finding Encouragement at the End of a Long Week

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The last four weeks have been crazy! Not just for me, but for everyone around me, too.

Extensive travel, too much to do in too little time, and family struggles will leave anyone feeling battered. When you go through a period like this - be it a day, week, month, or longer - where you're constantly busy, stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed, you need encouragement.

You need something that will in some shape or another tell you it's okay. "It's all good, and you're going to be just fine."

At times like these, where do you find encouragement? What brings resolve or balance back to life during these hectic times? Doesn't the stressful, overwhelming nature of it all inherently mean you're lacking encouragement?

If you're going to be encouraged, if you're going to feel better, you often have to want it. Anyone can point out the negatives of a situation. It takes a bit more effort to focus on the positives. Encouragement can come in overt forms - compliments, awards, and the like - but more commonly encouragement can be found in the little things.

Encouragement often comes in the tiny, overlooked details of life. It's these bits of glory, if you choose to pay attention to them, that can alleviate the pains of your exasperating troubles!

Momentarily foregoing humility, I must say that I take a lot of pride in consistently being able to look on the bright side. I'm not an optimist, at least not by nature, but I'm intentionally perceptive of seemingly small, positive details. They're what make life beautiful! That's where I find encouragement after a long day or during a long month.

If the beauty of life is in the details, then far too much has happened to give you a full account. But there's a few moments over the last month I distinctly remember that will likely apply to the majority.

At the beginning of February, myself and two coworkers drove from Chattanooga to Orlando for a conference. Long car rides, an overabundance of to-do's, and testosterone levels high enough to suffocate left me feeling bedraggled to say the least.

In the morning, I would get up a couple hours before the others, and escape to drink coffee with the sunrise. This brief time of meditation gave me what I needed to make it through the chaotic events of each day. I found encouragement through a moment of solace.

A couple weeks later, my wife and I, along with her father, drove up to Indianapolis to visit with a family member whose days were numbered. For a short time, I picked around on a guitar for this bed-ridden matriarch. A slight smile of genuine joy implanted itself on their face.

I was able to momentarily relieve this person of suffering by doing something simple. Travel and trying to work 10-hour days around visitation in a different state is stressful.

But I found encouragement by helping someone enjoy the last leg of their life in what little way I could. I'm thankful for that moment, and I was able to de-stress by making a difference in someone else's day. We can all make a positive difference in someone else's day.

At the moment, it's 9:45, Friday evening (I write in the evenings; edit and publish in the mornings). It's been a long, stressful month of extra work, travel, family struggle, and holding to my commitment to write every day. I'm sitting at home with my wonderful wife, both of us trying to de-stress from the month's events.

I'm able to take time to write. And though it means working late on a Friday, I'm grateful that I can pursue an individual dream of mine to become a recognized writer. As I sit here, cross-eyed and exhausted, I find encouragement in moving one step closer to fulfilling my goals.

Finding encouragement when you're stressed and overwhelmed is not about someone else telling you that you're awesome. To find encouragement, you have to look into the details.

Be perceptive of when you can help someone else feel better, for when you can enjoy a simple moment and a cup of coffee. Find encouragement by paying attention to the thousands of positive things that surround us each day, if only we have the determination to look.