If you read "The Notorious 'F' Word," you know that Fear attempts to intimidate my creative spirit.
Well, Fear turned up again when I began receiving letters from people that I have written this year. And while it might seem ridiculous, I took several days to open some of these letters because I, the letter writer, was nervous to read what others might say to me.
Seeing that I am sending letters that I want others to open and enjoy, it has been good for me to be on the receiving end of love. Clearly, I can be one of those people who fear vulnerability and struggles with embracing words of affirmation.
Once I was brave enough to open my letters, I was encouraged by the words that my friends had to say, and I recognized that I didn't need to fear love.
This experience brings me to a realization that we live in a society that tends to be critical. Whether it's movies, books, restaurants, or celebrities, we are constantly critiquing others.
Because there is so much negativity around us, we tend to assume that others are thinking the worst about us. But what would happen if we created a culture in our homes, in our schools, and workplaces where we were known for being people of encouragement rather than people who criticize? If we expected to be affirmed rather than cut down, we might not fear answering the phone or checking our email or opening letters.
As I think about my own community, it is good to ask myself:
Who can I encourage today? Who can I affirm? Did I encourage or discourage others today?