As a mom, I am wary of any toxic, negative influences in my children’s lives. I want to surround them with people who speak life, and who push them to become the best version of themselves.
But the truth is, I’m not always good at enforcing this boundary in my own life. A few years ago, God gave me a reminder of the power of influence as I watched my son practice his swing.
“Almost buddy! Try again. There you go!”
I saw other parents coach my eight-year-old through his first time in a batting cage and a smile crept across my face. They identified the areas where he was struggling, and they each worked together to help him improve.
“Put your right arm up a little bit. Spread your legs out more. There, nice hit!”
With each shout of encouragement, my son got better.
His confidence grew, and within a few minutes he was hitting the ball with more often. On the way home later that evening, he gave a coy little smile and asked Daddy, “So, did you like watching me hit the ball in that batting cage?”
He already knew the answer. But he loved hearing it.
Watching him reminded me how those little pushes from the people who surround us can change the trajectory of our whole lives. Although I know my son will discover his gifts lie in certain areas as he gets older, I never want to discourage him from trying new things.
I never want him to look back on his life and say, “If only I had tried this…”
Recently I shared with some friends how it was their encouragement, accountability and reinforcement that helped me reach new goals in my writing. They rallied behind me as I strove for things I never would have dreamed possible five or six years ago and never once said, “Don’t get your hopes up,” or “Do you think you’re being unrealistic?”
People who speak life make us seize life with both hands.
They make us attempt to do what we never thought we would, not because we’re able, but because God is.
But there’s a flip-side to those life-giving words and people, isn’t there? There’s that person we hesitate to share the good news with or discuss dreams with because we know as soon as we do, our hopes will deflate.
Like a balloon getting stuffed into a freezer, the enthusiasm that filled us instantly shrinks. Instead of reaching for the moon, we suddenly feel the need to defend ourselves.
Now, I don’t know who, as my eight-year-old likes to say, has “sucked the oxygen out of your tank” today (thank you, Lego Movie). But I do know a few truths that have helped me face those situations. We will always have some naysayers in our lives, but can I speak a little truth to you?
You are allowed to create boundaries to protect yourself and your family from toxic, negative people.
The next time you’re feeling deflated, remember:
1. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.
If God gave you a dream to pursue, he is able to see it through. There isn’t a person on this planet who can stand in his way.
2. You can limit the negative in your life.
If there is a certain person who speaks discouragement every time you share good news, it may be time to find someone else to share your victories with.
3. You can choose the people you do life with.
Like I stated before, I don’t think I would be where I can without the positive influence of friends who have pushed me beyond the limits I placed on myself. When we hear people saying, “I believe in you,” it makes us believe in ourselves.
Always remember to extend grace. You never know what someone who speaks discouragement may be going through. But choose your tribe wisely.
Surround yourself with others who believe the same God who spoke the stars into existence can sustain you as you reach for them. Shine on, and give our Creator all the glory.