Remember those high school pep rallies? An entire gymnasium filled with yelling, screaming, cheering teens, some attending to show school spirit while others were just happy to get out of class early. The pep squad would hop-skip out onto the middle of the floor, leading us in cute uniforms and swaying ponytails, flipping props in the air and shouting out rhyming word phrases. What makes those pep rallies so memorable? We felt a sense of community.
Those rallies weren’t about politics or world peace, they were about a football game. More accurately, a football team. And we wanted to win and we wanted to be winners.
Because when the football team won, we all won. It was our job to rally them, support them, cheer them on. We wanted to get them fired up so when it got tough out there on that field, they wouldn’t give up.
We all need a pep rally every now and then, don’t we?
We need people who will rally us, support us, fire us up, and cheer us on when the field of life gets tough. God is always with us, yes. We wouldn’t even be on the field if it wasn’t for Him, but He created us for community. He knew we needed a pep squad.
We Need Pep Talks Too
Being part of a group of people who care is not only uplifting, it’s healing. It’s like therapy only it’s like, free. It may take effort and it may take giving up the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, but it’s so worth it. Encouragement comes in many forms, one being pep talks from people who speak words of truth into our lives.
Friend, if you are not connected in a group (and I don’t mean a church service once a week) I encourage you to find one or start one. You may have close family and that is an amazing gift, but I know some of you don’t. The only way to develop valuable and life-changing relationships is to intersect with someone else’s world and choose your friends wisely. You can read more about that here.
Awareness is Also Important
I try to avoid the labels introvert and extrovert, but If I had to choose one I would probably say I’m an introvert. I love being home. I’d choose home over a party or gathering any day of the week (except special events like birthdays, weddings, graduations, my Life Group). I engage better with smaller groups and although I love speaking in front of crowds of people, it’s still just me up there set apart. Maybe that’s you, too.
Maybe you’re the outgoing “where’s the next party” type of person, and that’s ok, too.
Because we have different personalities and temperaments, we need to become more aware of cues and clues that a friend is struggling. For example, we may tend to think the stay-at-homers need encouragement, and the go-getters have it all together. We forget that even outgoing friends can get lonely. We tend to encourage the homebody friends to get “out there” more while missing the “already out there” friends who are in a crowd feeling all alone.
Connection and awareness are keywords. A lamp cannot light unless you plug it in. Even if it’s battery operated, you still need the batteries or it might as well be a rock. We need to stay plugged in, help others plug-in, and be aware of who is feeling like they’re MIA.
Jesus is the ultimate source of light and power, He is the light of the world. We can shine because His light shines in us. That light is not just for us, and it’s not just for others to see…
It’s for us to see others.
How to Cast Your Cares
Difficult times seem to run in cycles. I’ve seen how God works it out in such a way that when one person is up, another is down. Sometimes we’re called to be the pep squad and sometimes we need one. Badly.
There’s a balance to remember here. We can’t play the same role all the time. That will burn us out.
I’m sure you, like me, don’t like burdening family and friends with our problems, knowing they have enough to deal with, let alone ours on top. Maybe that’s why so many stay silent for so long. But we need to speak up.
What is weighing you down right now? What burdens are you carrying?
You can’t support that weight and you can’t carry those burdens forever. Sooner or later you will buckle under the pressure.
It’s like one of those pressure cookers. Remember those? My mom had one. She made the best pepper steak, but we were all deathly afraid the thing would blow up and shoot through the roof like a rocket. I’ve heard those new Instant Pots are fantastic, too. A miracle appliance used for cooking food in less than half the time. They sound a bit safer than the one mom used, but the pressure is still there.
We can be like those pressure cookers and Instant Pots, except, in the end, we don’t crank out a delicious meal, we have a melt-down. Sooner or later the pressure has to go somewhere.
God knows all about our pressures and burdens. He tells us this:
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22 NIV
I think we get confused about the meaning of the word cast. I don’t know about you, but what comes to my mind when I hear the word cast is fishing. But there’s a problem when we associate God’s instruction of “cast your cares” with fishing, because when we fish we cast out a line with the sole purpose of reeling it back in with more on the hook than when we sent it out.
I think the confusion comes in when we cast our cares and reel them back in. We keep taking those cares back when we’re supposed to just cast. We’re not casting to catch something we’re casting to lose something.
I guess we could use the fishing analogy this way:
Our cares are not the bait on the hook, they’re more like those fishing weights that want to sink us.
And what does casting our cares really mean, anyway? How do we do that?
Cast is a verb. We have to take some type of action.
Here are a few ideas:
- Writing out what weighs us down in the form of journaling or in the form of prayers is taking action.
- Praying those prayers is taking action (I know some days it’s even hard to pray, and you can read more about that here).
- Telling God about our cares and making a commitment to Him to trust Him, is taking action.
- Making a decision to give up worrying about what we cannot control and putting God first in our lives is taking action.
- A willingness to make positive changes and walk according to His will and His plans for us is taking action.
Why We Need Community
Those plans God has for us? I believe they include sharing our hearts with others, and that’s why we need community.
I think we can learn something from those pep rallies because High School wasn’t just about classroom lessons, it was about life lessons. Even if you didn’t attend a traditional school, you must have experienced some type of team environment.
If you’ve worked outside the home, you’ve probably been a part of a team or at least been part of a group moving towards the same goal. At that point, the common goal is more meaningful than the sum of its parts. It’s more important than all the differences and difficulties each person is individually experiencing at that time.
Community is associated with the word common and we can also see the word unity. What we have in common brings unity. That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Grab hold of a community because at one time or another either you’ll need them or they’ll need you.
How can I encourage you today, friend?
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT
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