There has been something on my heart for the past few weeks. It’s a small topic at best, and with as many final papers that I have due it should probably be the least of my worries. But I can’t help it. I worry. Its weight is heavy on me. Encouragement and communication: that’s what has been on my brain. Specifically, the areas in which I’ve failed in both of these. It was in a conversation with Marty Trammell, or Dr. Love as we like to call him, when I was reminded that encouragement isn’t a suggestion in the New Testament. It’s a commandment. When the Bible talks about encouragement it’s often in relation to using the scriptures to speak truth, or encourage, our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Thess. 5:11; Rom. 15:4; Acts 15:32). Paul tells us to “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13 NAS). But despite his warning I’ve let myself be deceived. I have hardened my heart. And what’s worse is I have wanted it. It sounds pathetic and it sounds selfish but some days I forget who I am. It’s in that forgetfulness that a hard heart sounds like the deal of a life time. Am I the only one who thinks life without having to feel all the hurt that comes at us would be grand? I don’t think I am but I think that’s what the devil would like me to believe. Pardon my nerd, but there is a quote from Harry Potter that I really like. It’s said by Luna Lovegood and goes something like this, “if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat.” Say what you will about Harry Potter, but this quote is gold. I think the devil is a little sneakier than we give him credit for. He’s done a good job at making himself seem invisible in the church, but I think he’s found his way in through our common insecurities. The best way to stop the body of Christ is to separate it. And the best way to separate it is to make the different parts feel like they don’t belong. I think we all forget who we are sometimes. We forget what we really want in life. Or who God says we are, and who we’ve chosen to be in relation to that. And sometimes, I think we even forget that we matter. This is why encouragement is made a big deal of in the Bible. We’re a body. Where the foot fails, the arm is strong. When the eyes can’t see, the mouth speaks. We are meant to support each other. When one of us forgets who we are it’s the job of the others to remind them. You are good. You are valuable. You are better than this. When we don’t, Satan wins a small and quite victory.I don’t understand how there can be so much fear in the lifting up of others but I still find myself being quite when I want to tell someone how great I think they are. Or that they did a rock star job on their speech, or that I appreciate what they had to say in class. I mean, what if they think I’m weird? What if I sound stupid, or what I say is misinterpreted insincerely or wrong? Or worse of all, what if they think I like them? What if I do? What if only as a brother? Where do we move from here? It seems that I have more questions than answers because I don't know. All I do know is that there are people in my life who don’t know how much they matter to me. And this breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that I’ve let fear take root over love. I guess that’s the challenge. Stop being afraid and start being real. Fearless. That's what I want to be.