Supporting each other
I am currently reading ‘A Chelsea Concerto’ which is one of the most evocative memoirs of the London ‘Blitz’ during WWII written by Frances Faviell, who was an exceptionally brave Red Cross volunteer at the time.
In it she writes about how important being encouraged was during that time when Britain was alone and had some of its darkest ever days. She talks about the impact that Winston Churchill’s famous “I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat” & “You ask what is our aim? I’ll answer it in one word: VICTORY” speech in May 1940 had on the nation. Frances Faviell said the reaction to Churchill’s speech was immediate:
“’So assured and confident was the voice of the man who had taken over leadership of the country that a great wave of elation swept over us. ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’ appealed somehow to the mood of the public and the words themselves caught the public fancy. …The single word ‘Victory’ gave the man in the street a simple definite aim, just as the genius who used it meant it too”.
The end result of course was that the British public were galvanised like never before or since and stood firm during a period where like France, and the rest of Europe, we could have buckled under.
So we can see the huge impact that being encouraged and supported can have on us individually but also as a community- which is why as a Lent Act of Kindness it is so important.
One of the things I learnt working in HR with different kinds of organisations was that the most successful and compassionate ones are not the ones who either offer their people the biggest cash bonuses, the greatest promotions, or those who simply order their people to achieve things- or else. The really successful and effective ones are where they treat their people as valued individuals and people that matter to them.
If you can make people -whether it is someone that works for you or a friend or neighbour- feel appreciated, valued and someone who makes a difference to things, then amazing, wonderful things can happen. People on the whole want to be acknowledged for either what they do or who they are, we all want to be loved- and that is what such support and encouragement really is- a way to show your genuine love for the people in our lives.
How do we do that though? I heard a recent church sermon on this issue recently which highlighted the importance of having some kind of relationship with people, even if to begin with, things may not initially improve. Like all human interaction, you need to work at it, to be interested in them, to understand someone and to truly listen to them. In so many cases, relationships break down (or don’t even start) because people feel they are not listened to. We can so often be selfish even if we don’t realise it at the time. We can all gain so much by being open to what a neighbour or friend has to say to us- and often all they want is for us to listen to them in a non-judgemental way. Matthew 7:1 is clear that “Judge not, that you may not be judged.”
So as we go about our daily lives both this week and beyond, we should ourselves be encouraged that all of us have a power that we have yet to truly unlock, so that we can do our best. And that starts with a conversation. Who are you going to start listening to today?