God Wants to Encourage You Today

God Encourages by Holley Gerth

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You encourage them and you listen to their cry. Psalm 10:17

It would be easier to pull the covers back over her head. It would be simpler to let the sun stream through the windows and not rise to greet it. It would be less painful to turn over and let sleep seize her again.

But she doesn’t let the depression win. Not today. She pushes back the blankets and puts her feet on the floor. She stretches her arms to the heavens and whispers, “Help me, Jesus.” She takes a step away from her comfort zone and into the arms of the Savior who is waiting to walk with her through every moment of her day.

Depression is real. And I believe we are whole beings who need help with every aspect of it—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. So if you’re struggling with ongoing sadness, then learn the symptoms, go see your doctor, find a wise counselor, and do everything you can to help yourself get what you need.

Also know this: God doesn’t condemn you for your feelings. Many of the well-known characters of the Bible struggled with periods of depression too. You’re not alone in your struggle, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve personally wrestled on and off with depression—and most likely will for the rest of my life. I don’t understand why this is a “thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7). But thankfully I’ve learned this truth along the way: God is on my side, especially in those times.

I love that the verse above says that God encourages us. Have you ever thought about that? When the day seems difficult, when you’re weary, when you feel like a failure . . . God is encouraging you. For so long I thought of him as standing by and shaking his head as he wondered, “Why can’t you get it together?” But that’s not his heart toward us at all.

To encourage literally means “to give courage,” and that’s what God wants to do for us on the hard days. He says to us, “I’m here. I will help you. I will give you strength to take one more step.”

He looks at your life with infinite love and tenderness. And he knows how hard it is to be us sometimes. He lived in this world. He experienced pain. He died on a cross. Jesus understands how brutal this world can be.

Depression is a hard enough battle on its own. God doesn’t want you to add guilt and shame to what you’re already trying to overcome. Instead he wants to encourage you.

What if, on the days when it’s hard for you to get out of bed, you imagined him reaching out to lift you up instead of being disappointed in you? What if he’s cheering as you take your first step into a day that’s not one you want to face? What if instead of saying “get it together,” he’s whispering, “Let’s do this together”?

And it can change us.

You are encouraged, not condemned, my friend.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

The excerpt above is from my new devotional book, What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days. We’re going through it together on Facebook and we’d love for you to join us. Come on over, friend.

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

It’s finally here!

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days - Holley Gerth

Hey Friend! Do you ever have hard days and need encouragement? Me too.

That’s why I’m so excited to share with you that my new devotional book What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days: 52 Truths to Hold On To officially releases today! Woo-hoo!

You can order your copies by clicking here and it’s on sale right now

And for the first time ever, I’m going to host a book club. Think of it like us gathering in a corner of our favorite coffee shop for some heart-to-heart encouragement. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? {To be part of the book club, all you need to do is like my Facebook page.} We will kick off the book club next Monday, September 8th so you still have time for you and your friends to get your books!

To give you a little taste, here’s an excerpt from the introduction…

We all have hard days. The kind that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads, move to Hawaii, or eat a dozen cupcakes. Deep inside we know those aren’t the best options for our lives or our thighs. So what’s a girl to do?

Thankfully, Jesus said we don’t “live on bread alone”—that includes cupcakes—“but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). That means while we may crave all kinds of things, what we really need is truth. We need to know who God is and what he’s promised us. We need to remember who we are and have confidence that we’re going to be okay. We need to find a way to quiet the hunger pains in our hearts.

The book of Psalms is like a table covered with God’s goodness. It’s a place I’m often drawn to when I’m feeling down. And it’s where we’re going to sit together in these pages. So pull up a chair if you’re feeling tired, if you’re discouraged, or if you just feel a little empty inside.

Because this book has fifty-two entries, you can read it as a daily or weekly devotional. My prayer is that by the end of our time together, you’ll walk away with a heart that’s full. You’ll have more strength, peace, and joy. You’ll feel refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.

You’re not alone, my friend. We’re in this together. Let’s “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).

God used this book to speak some truths to my heart that I find myself going back to again and again on tough days and I can’t wait to share them with you!

You can order your copies of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by clicking here {and it’s on sale right now!}. And to be part of the book club, all you need to do is like my Facebook page. We’ll start going through the book together on Monday, September 8th. Who can you invite to join us?

I’m really looking forward to this time with you. And I’d love for you to bring some friends with you too! Who else in your life needs encouragement for their hard days? I hope we’re not the only ones who ever feel this way! :)

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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7 Ways You Can Love an Introvert

Last week I shared about being an introvert with a highly sensitive nervous system. And, wow, your responses amazed me. Many of you said, “I’m this way too and I wish the people in my life understood me better.” So let’s talk a bit more about this topic together.

Here are seven ways you can love the introverts in your life…

{What I’m sharing below is based on personal experience, my masters degree in counseling and training as a life coach as well as numerous books and articles I’ve read on this topic.}

7 Ways to Love an Introvert by Holley Gerth

1) Realize that introversion is not simply a personality trait; it’s a nervous system setting. Here’s how I like to explain it: Your nervous system is like a net that catches stimulation in your environment–things like noise, lights, words and facial expressions.

If you’re an extrovert, you’ve got extra large holes in your net. You can handle a lot of stimulation before you get overwhelmed. If you’re in the middle of extrovert-introvert you’ve got average size holes. If you’re an introvert with a highly sensitive nervous system you catch everything. So you’re easily and quickly overstimulated.

This is not about liking people or not–it’s about biology and how your system processes your environment. Please never make an introvert feel like she’s anti-social. She loves people just as much as you do; she just does it differently. Brain scans can actually show us this now.

2) Appreciate that because of the above, the introverts in your life will probably know you better and more deeply than anyone else. They may be quieter but they are taking it all in. They’re listening to you, reading between the lines, catching what you’re expressing that even you don’t realize you’re expressing.

So please don’t pressure introverts to be more outgoing. They’re doing what they do best and if you push them to be someone they’re not, you’re moving them away from who God created them to be and what he wants them to add to the world.

If you have a child who’s an introvert with a sensitive nervous system, nurture the unique gifts that come with that. Many of the world’s most influential artists, spiritual leaders and creative thinkers are in this group. Think of all we would have missed if someone had forced them to change.

3) Understand that introverts will want one-on-one time with you. Yes, we love your kids, husband and other friends too. And it’s occasionally fun to be at get-togethers {okay, maybe not–but we’ll make ourselves do it anyway}. But we will feel disconnected from you if we don’t get to the heart level in our conversations and that usually requires being one-on-one. In general, we don’t enjoy groups–they’re simply too much for our nervous systems to process.

And small talk often feels like a waste to introverts because we only have so much social energy/emotion to spend and because we love you so much we want to use it in the best way possible. We feel really guilty about this a lot of the time. But it truly is because we love you. We really want to know how you’re doing. We really want to listen to you. We really want to understand you. And surface-talking groups are so overwhelming that they make it almost impossible for us to do that well.

4) Let Introverts spend time away from you guilt-free. When an introvert withdraws, she’s not leaving…she’s loving. She’s saying, “My nervous system is overwhelmed right now. I physically have nothing left to give you. I need to let my nervous system have a break so I can come back to serve, love and listen well again.”

If an introvert stays at your house, tell her she’s welcome to sleep in, take naps, go off on her own to read or just spend time in her room. She’s not being anti-social. She’s doing what she needs to so she can love you well long-term. Remember, when she’s with you she will be there 100%–much more than you probably get from other folks.

Most introverts feel extremely guilty about their need for time alone and will usually push themselves to the brink–even to the point of getting physically sick–not to disappoint you. We need your help knowing our needs are valid and okay. 

5) Offer another option besides talking on the phone. Again, completely guilt-inducing but true. The phone strips conversations down to what stresses us out most–the verbal part. Being with you in person lets us see your facial expressions, gives us time to pause and process before we respond, and helps us use our amazing nervous system to your best benefit.

Introverts also often love to communicate in writing because it gets to the heart level, gives us time to think and lets us be very intentional about our words.

Again, this is not a personality trait–it’s a biological reality. Verbal communication skills reside in the left side of our brains. Written communication skills reside in the right side {which many introverts lean toward}. All communication is not created equal, and some forms are uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking and sometimes even downright painful for introverts–especially when we’re stressed or tired.

6) Recognize when introverts are tired or stressed they need extra rest and support. Introverts tend to sleep more and need naps because it’s one of the best ways to restore our nervous systems. We’re not lazy–we’re being wise about our resources. We may also need extra quiet spaces. Even sound and light can be painful when we’re depleted.

When an introvert gets drained, she will probably think things like, “What’s wrong with me?” or push herself to carry on to the point of making herself ill or depressed–all because she doesn’t want to disappoint you. Help her know that she can say “yes” or “no” to your invitations to connect and you will love her just the same.

7) Be kind: Introverts are already really hard on themselves. The highly sensitive nervous system that makes us very in tune with our external environment also means we are very aware and often critical of what’s going on inside us. We are very, very hard on ourselves and have a tendency to overanalyze. We’re not likely to be irresponsible or unaware of what we’re doing wrong. Instead, we’re far more likely to burn out or fall into depression because we are hyper-aware of all the ways we could do better. And if we think we’ve let you down, especially because we’re not meeting your social expectations, it’s very painful.

As you can see from all of the above, the greatest gifts you can give an introvert are acceptance and affirmation. We can tend to feel guilty, tired, anxious and like a disappointment. And you would probably never guess it. The way we’re wired is a gift but when we feel shame about it then it becomes a burden.

Recognize the strengths in the introverts in your life. Thank them for listening. Encourage their creativity. Remind them having a soft heart in a hard world is courage not weakness. In other words, support who God created us to be. We deeply love you and we truly need you to love us just as we are too.

What else would you add to this list? What resources {books, articles, etc.} have helped you better understand being or loving an introvert? I really want to hear…just not on the phone. :)

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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p.s. You know I love going to counseling–it’s like a spa day for your soul. {Counseling actually helped me process a lot of what I shared above.} My wise friend Roxanne Ross just got certified to do distance counseling, which means she can work with anyone, anywhere. I highly recommend Roxanne and you can connect with her at www.roxannerosscounseling.com.