en·cour·age
inˈkərij/
verb
1. Give support, confidence or hope to someone. Hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, motivate, spur on, stir up, fire up, stimulate, invigorate, vitalize, revitalize, embolden, fortify, rally, back, champion, promote, further, foster, nurture, cultivate, strengthen, stimulate.

What it Means

The word encourage packs a huge punch. There’s a lot in that one word and the definition listed does not even include all of the synonyms available in the dictionary or even all the definitions listed.

The Bible also has a lot to say about encouraging each another. The gift of encouragement means different things in different contexts. It can mean to speak words that give incentive or words that calm and console another. It can also mean to be called to a person’s side, to exhort, entreat, instruct, strengthen, comfort, instruct or teach.

I was surprised recently when I took a Grace Gifts test and rated high on encouragement. Then, I read this statement and the scores on the test totally made sense. It said, “Encouragers are at their best when they can motivate the assembly of Christ followers to persevere in the struggle against sin and strive for the accomplishment of God’s mission.”

This is why encouragement has appeared on my gifts list when if I had taken it 15 years ago, it wouldn’t have. Back then, I was struggling in the midst of my chosen failure or to be blunt, my chosen sin, of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted.

Facing My Failures

I was not into encouraging anyone to stop doing what I was doing. I knew Paul’s words all too well. “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”1

But good ole’ Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong … Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”2

It was like Paul was reading my mind. That was exactly my question. I wanted to know how to get free. I lived in this disastrous condition for over 30 years of my adult life eventually gaining up to 430 pounds! Yes, it’s really true.

Hemorrhaging

A member of my Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Community, said it this way. “When you are hemorrhaging, food is a tourniquet and eating healthy seems like a long ride to the hospital where you might die.” I totally understand that statement and it was exactly how I had felt.

I tried to stop. I went on diets and lost 100 pounds many times only to gain it back when I’d reach my goal and go back to eating like I’d always done. I got to the point where I just threw up my hands. I just slid back into the stronghold of allowing a quick fix to assuage whatever emotion had me by the throat at the moment.

From experience I knew the quickest way to get rid of whatever emotional turmoil I was in was to eat something like a cinnamon crunch bagel or bake a batch of cookies or brownies and eat the entire batch. I didn’t want anyone to think I was emotional. Emotional was bad. Eating, however, was really, really good in that moment.

The momentary bandaid, when I was really bleeding to death, was any of my comfort foods consisting mostly of sugar and flour.

My Solution

I figured the weight I had gained was my problem and I had to fix it, but in the moment I had no plan regarding how to do that. I didn’t ask for God’s help mainly because I loved my comfort foods more than I did Him.

My whole story is very involved, but suffice it so say after trying every quick fix under the sun, I finally discovered a group with an encouraging mentor who never gave up on me.

He never scolded. He never told me what to do. He always let me and God figure it out. What he did do was challenge me, prod me and hold me accountable. He encouraged me to go deeper with what I was feeling in order to discover the roots of my behaviors.

He showed me how to get to a level of mastery on my journey so that the 250 pounds I had lost by June of 2013 are still history. I still know I have a weakness that I must guard against, so I stay true to my goals and boundaries. I know living this way is living like God wants me to.

My Calling

Today, I can’t not encourage people on their total transformation journey! God has called me to coach others on the journey. I coach from the fact that I now don’t just know the truth can set me free, I have experience truth and it has freed me!3 No one can take truth for me because I have experienced it for myself.

The last verse of Romans 7 used to always leave me frustrated! After the Paul asks who can set me free of this miserable life of sin and death. He answers himself, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”4

I had to learn how to allow Jesus to lead me on this journey. Remember, Jesus passed this temptation right out of the gate when he had fasted for 40 days. The evil one came and tempted Him to turn stones into bread.

Jesus refused and said the words sets us free. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5

My Gift to You

If there is one gift I could give you, it is the gift of encouraging you to follow God on your own personal journey. I have written four books and two study guides on the topic of Christian weight loss. I have a coaching group. I do one-on-one coaching. I have a business page where I post a lot of Scriptures and other information, but I decided I’m going one step further.

To tell you the truth, I resisted doing this, but God would not let me go forward with my other projects until I did this. So, I just formed a Facebook group called Healthy & Free Christian Women Community

It is a place where I will encourage you and share meaningful Scriptures, songs, inspiration, words, blogs and anything I can to support and prod you towards your destiny. Because here’s the truth. Until we deal with the failures in our own lives, we cannot step into all God has for us.

Simply go HERE to join the group. Answer the three simple questions, just so I know you are a real person and you’ll be approved. Then, in the group post your questions or comments and join in being encouraged and encouraging others.

By the way, encouragement should always be free. It actually means to put courage in another person. Today, I just want to encourage you. You and God got this. Come join us on the journey.

Here’s the link again: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HealthyFreeChristianWomen/

1Romans 7:19 NLT
2Romans 7:21, 24 NLT
3John 8:32 MSG
4Romans 7:25 NLT
5Matthew 4:4 NIV

Which Way To Destiny?
There Are No Grey Areas
Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 260 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. She has three more books, "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing An Appetite for God." Sweet Grace and Sweet Freedom study guides are available as well. All books are on Amazon. Her Coaching Programs can be found under the Weight Loss tab at TeresaShieldsParker.com. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking Tab.