Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Reader, You Encourage Me

This morning, I want to tell you how you encourage me.

Two years ago, I had just decided that I wanted to go to Washington, DC for the semester. Two years ago, I wished for a way to put my heart onto paper. Two years ago, I didn't realize that typing into a "blogger" window would fill me up to the brim, would make me overflow with gratitude and joy.

And then there was DC. 

I walked the sidewalks of Eastern Market and found myself there. I trailed through the Zoo, behind the Lincoln dazzling against the sticky September night, through some hard questions about contentment and what it means to love Jesus with everything you've got.

And I blogged my way through it. Some posts were funny and others sad, some were loud and sarcastic and others quiet. And I didn't think anyone was reading, really - it was all just because I needed to type the words. I needed not to forget the place that still makes me homesick with love when I imagine it. And I never said anything to anyone, but if you read this - you who ate macaroni and oven baked chicken and went to 7-Eleven, who signed with me on the roof that third week and who whispered through tear stained faces that you were glad we met - you gave me the courage to open my heart. 

And then there was Italy. 

I heard the wild call of writing walking through a quiet town in the Umbrian hills as the stars flickered. Someone was smoking a pipe, arguing about the knowability of the divine. Someone was laughing about gelato and cobblestones. Someone else, still, gazed up ahead - I could see her face, full of joy.

I held up my heart against Italian sun and wind on a hilltop in Rome, and felt it wriggle with joy. I never said anything to them, not then, but if you read this - you who traveled with me those ten days - you gave me the courage to write. 

And then there was winter, and summer, and fall. 

And you came to visit, here. You filled my table, me with the still-learning-to-make-more-than-soup kitchen skills. You sat down and stayed a while. You gave me your time. I wrote my way through questions about God and love and being single. I wrote my way through anger and frustration, through being emptied and filled and emptied again. And you listened. I don't know if I typed it, but if you read this - you who wrote me those emails or facebook messages or who stopped me on the sidewalk during the longest days - you gave me the courage to be me. 

To encourage does not just mean to affirm one another. It is not simply saying the nice things, or the lovely things. It is not just listing our best qualities in front of a mirror or over lattes. No, to encourage means to embolden, to hearten, to inspire with courage. And you have inspired me with courage.

Thank you for saying, "Of course you're not good. Not yet. But you can put a sentence together. That's a beginning." {I carry those words.} Thank you for nodding when I confessed in the car that I wanted to be a writer. Thank you for reading the last five drafts of my play. Thank you for chatting at the sky, for living life between countries, callings and kids, for being a heart to heart person, for the one thousand gifts.

 And may we all be courageous together.



  1. This is beautiful Hilary. I am so glad Preston introduced me to your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart. 

  2. Dear Hilary. For you are dear. And you encourage us. By your honesty, by your joys, by your frustrations, by all your words.
    It is such an honour, such a blessing, to know you, to stretch from the cobbled streets of Roma all the way to the paved ones of Beverly.
    Be of good courage, dear friend, for YOU are beautiful and bold and full to overflowing. May you be ever more so.

  3. Thank you, Amy. I'm so glad Preston introduced us, too. Thank you for spending time here. It means the world to me.

  4. Suzanne, thank you. Thank you for being there on that trip, and for sharing the courageous call to writing with me. Thank you for your words. Thank you for you.

  5. It's amazing to think it's been two years already - just wow!

  6. I know!!! Can't believe it. So glad I got to meet you, lovely Lisa-Jo!

  7. Congratulations, Hilary! Love your blog, every minute of it. Thank YOU for sharing with us!

  8. Thank you, Sarah. I'm so glad you are here. 


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