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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Brotherhooves Social”

At the start of this episode, Big Macintosh suffers from a serious lack of appreciation. He’s downcast because his little sister only ever seems to praise his older sister, who admittedly has a great number of major accomplishments under her belt while all he ever does is work around the farm. It leads him to feel rather small compared to her, as well as unappreciated and unloved. As a result, he goes on a rather wild and hare-brained scheme to try and get his younger sister’s admiration and affection by pretending to be an older female cousin to help her win the annual Sisterhooves Social; hoping he’ll finally do something praise-worthy. When instead his attempts to get her to win get her disqualified, he feels like more of a heel than ever.

However, in spite of all this and how low he’s feeling, when Apple Bloom takes some time out at the end to reveal her appreciation and love for him, it ends up making all the difference.

I’ve touched on the need to show appreciation before, but I felt like calling it out again as it’s really something that the world could use more of. Day in and day out, on the media, in our homes, at work, and on the Internet, we hear reasons to criticize and condemn people. You can’t take one viewpoint or do one thing without reading an essay somewhere about why it’s a bad thing. And in the rapid world we live in and the schedules we go through, we can be stuck doing the same thing day after day (whether it be working, taking care of the kids, or going to school) and never seem to see any “reward” for it other than more work. Everyone seems to eventually take our behavior for granted and it all just becomes a routine, including those who we are doing things for. And it’s at times like that in which many of us may wonder what the point is or why to bother if it’s only going to be more of the same.

Unfortunately, for some of us, this extends to Christian life. As the idea of Christianity is constant self-improvement and making ourselves closer to “complete”, the idea can become in the worst of times that God is never pleased with us, and that no matter what we do it will never be good enough, and any good we do is irrelevant because we could always do better. This too leads to discouragement over time, and a wonder as to why we bother trying to live the Christian lifestyle. We’ll all eventually “sin” and “fall short” in spite of our best efforts (although hopefully not too often and habitually/intentionally), and there will always be “better Christians” whose own faith and efforts seem to yield far more. So why bother?

I thought about that when trying to come up with the devotional for this episode, and, as a result, I wanted to share one thing that happened to me this past week that resonated.

I’ve been working extended hours at my job every day lately to try and meet a crucial deadline to get a product working, and I ended up putting in weekend hours as well. I sacrificed my personal time and was working almost like a machine, and yet it seemed the more work I did the more there was to do. I had been growing short tempered and irritable as this all seemed to be no benefit in the grand scheme of things, and I despaired that it looked like the next few weeks would be more of the same. I was starting to grow glum and simply brooded at my work station about how this was a waste of time and I how much I felt like giving up on the whole thing.

Yet around that time, one of my supervisors called in with another assignment (one that I accepted only grudgingly). Right before I got back to work, he stopped for a moment to say he appreciated all the work I was doing and coming in on the weekend.

All things considered, that meant nothing. The work was still there and there was more beyond it, after all. And yet, it did have a massive impact on me. I became less irritable. I took to my work more earnestly. I became much more pleasant to be around and focused more and harder on my tasking. Just by someone taking time out from giving me more tasks to say thanks for the tasks I was already doing made a huge difference.

My recommendation for today is if you see anyone doing a hard job or struggling under a task, or perhaps doing the same thing they do day after day and yet never get so much as a ‘thank you’ for it, and you think about whether or not to say a brief word of encouragement or gratitude, immediately act on that impulse and do it. You never know if those people are feeling totally thankless and purposeless, and having someone just stop to say that they are appreciated, even if all they are doing is a rather mundane task, can make a great deal of difference to their day and outlook. Maybe even a world of difference.

So many of us may go day after day thinking no one cares about anything we do. Even if someone just says thank you who we never expected to hear anything from, it can make what should be a horrible day into a pleasant one. From my personal experience, even if the situation doesn’t change afterward, it always “feels” better when you know someone appreciates what you do, and that you are admired for it.

Last but not least, as God uses other people to bring a change to this world, it is especially important that we as Christians encourage one another. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). This is especially true as we expect most people in the world to be against us, and it’s not always easy to hold on when we believe no one has our back besides God. Knowing that someone else is standing behind you might be all someone needs to keep pushing forward.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for all the times in which I felt discouraged, hopeless, futile, downhearted, and, especially, like giving up in which you or someone sent by you has come into my life and helped me to keep going with a kind or compassionate word and gesture. Please help me to always encourage others through my words and example, and use me to build up people rather than tear them down. Please let me never focus so much on my own misery or problems that I neglect to do this. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”