It took me long enough to figure it out, but I’m a cheerleader at heart. That statement, in and of itself, cracks me up, quite honestly. This admission will shock a few of my friends, but when I tried out for the cheerleading squad in junior high school, I wasn’t chosen because “I wasn’t loud enough.” Really? No one would ever guess that now.

But the truth I’ve discovered about myself is that I was made to encourage people. It’s in the very central makeup of who I am. But I stumbled over that truth while parenting my sons, and it almost messed up the rest of me too. Let me explain.

I am the mom of strong-willed sons. When my oldest son was younger, I felt like I had to stay “in charge” for some reason, as if he would take over and I would lose my parental authority. His personality was very intense, and he learned how to push my “last nerve” buttons extremely well. And I played the game. I allowed him to manipulate me through my reactions and failure to admit my need for control.

For a few years, my husband kept suggesting that I allow him to be “the bad guy” with our son, and for me to take on the cheerleader role. I tried to see his logic, but I unwisely resisted his plan. With every intention of “rah, rah, rah” in my heart, I came up the stairs one day to discover food all over the living room, which had always been against the rules. And instead of encouragement, out came frustration. Replay this scenario with different circumstances, but a similar reaction, over and over and over, and you will understand those few years of my life. My intention to encourage my son was not being realized. And we both suffered for it.

In our specific situation, I was not living up to my responsibility within our family because of mycreated denial.

One day I had a brainstorm: Let’s try this Steve’s way. (I know, I know. His logic almost always wins!) But the unbelievable joy initiated in the discovery of the truth was totally worth being proven wrong. His theory worked. For me, that was the beginning of realizing that in and of myself, I am an encourager at my core. And the freedom that has come from not having to be someone I was never created to be has been remarkable.

What truths about yourself might be lurking in your heart today, waiting to be discovered? What were you created to do? Who were you created to be? May contentment and peace follow in the wake of your own discovery, and may you walk out every dream you were created to fulfill.

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