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Gentle Virtues

Uplifting Others

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09/01/2009 - When I was eight years old I faced a tempting moment that I did not resist. My little 89 pound grandma was standing in front of our sliding glass door looking into our backyard. For sometime I wondered if I was strong enough to lift her. Now the opportunity presented itself.

Quietly I walked up behind her, wrapped my arms around her western belt and lifted her about six inches off the floor. Not expecting to be lifted, she flailed her skinny arms trying to recover her balance. This made me release her into our sliding glass door.

Never wanting to hurt my precious grandma I was brought to tears when I saw her reach into her sleeve and pull out a rumpled tissue to use for her bleeding nose. Since then, I have learned better ways to lift others up.

We have the ability to hurt or uplift people. While hurting someone can be intentional or unintentional, uplifting someone needs to be an intentional action. We can uplift people in two ways.

First we can be comforters. At some point we will encounter someone grieving over the loss of a loved one or dealing with a grave hardship.

Grief and the adjective "grave" share the same Latin root word, "gravis". It means "heavy". Grief and grave matters weigh down one's spirit. They are difficult to lift, especially alone. We can come along and help.

Look at the word "comfort". What word do you see hidden inside? (Hint: Think of the Old West.) Yes, "fort" is the word and it comes from the Latin root word "forte", meaning "strong". When we comfort someone, we are strengthening his or her spirit. We are helping him or her bear the heaviness.

We can comfort someone with cards, emails, flowers, meals, errand running, prayers and hugs. No expression of caring is too small.

Secondly, we can be encouragers. While being comforted strengthens one's spirit, being encouraged strengthes one's heart.

Inside the word encouragement is the word courage. It comes from the Latin root word "cor" which means "the heart". We are giving a person the strength to continue.

An encouraging word does not need to be eloquent. It just needs to be specific, timely and sincere.

When we see someone to uplift, may we remember that it is not the time to prove our strength but the time to strengthen that person in spirit and/or heart. We can make a difference. Let's be active comforters and encouragers today.

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