Lenten Devotional: Encouragement

by Guest Contributors

People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration – and LGBTQ people and our family and friends are no different.

People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration – and LGBTQ people and our family and friends are no different. Throughout the Lenten season, HRC will share devotionals from faith leaders, LGBTQ people and allies. The campaign seeks to create an environment in which LGBTQ people of faith and their allies can practice the spiritual traditions of their faith in a welcoming, inclusive environment.

The Lenten season marks the days that lead up to Jesus' crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.

For Christians, the resurrection is both a celebration of life and a reminder that people continue to suffer, including members of the LGBTQ community.

It is important to note that the season of Lent is an observance of many Christian denominations and may not resonate with all readers. Throughout this series, HRC seeks to amplify and honor the voices of LGBTQ-affirming faith leaders in many religious traditions.

Today’s post featured below comes from Jessica Vallier, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas. For more about the Lenten Devotional, visit hrc.im/Lent

“You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was!” -Psalm 139:13-14

Everyone needs encouragement. There’s nothing worse than putting forth your best effort and no one notices. It stings. It hurts. It’s painful.

What if your best effort is simply your life? Imagine presenting yourself to the world every day and no one notices. No kind word, no bright smile, no open arms. Nothing.

For some of us, that’s what it’s like in certain spaces when people learn we live alternative lifestyles. Rather than encouragement, we receive condemnation. People refuse to issue marriage licenses because they don’t notice our love. People refuse to provide adequate healthcare because they don’t notice our bodies. People refuse to bake cakes because they don’t notice our feelings. It’s hard to be encouraged when not being noticed is your life, your everyday life.

That’s why I love the song, “Encourage Yourself,” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. Published in June 2009, these words comprise the first verse:

                        Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes

                        you have to speak victory during the test. And no matter

                        how you feel, speak the word, and you will be healed.

                        Speak over yourself. Encourage yourself in the Lord.

To some, that might sound like an easy thing to do. For others of us, we need help. What do you say to encourage yourself? What words will make you feel better? What can you tell yourself to help you realize your worth, to remind yourself that you are fierce and fabulous?

Gracious God, ground us in the encouragement that comes from Your mouth, the encouragement You receive from Your words. Amen.

The Lenten Devotional is a faith-driven resource that compiles meditations written by 47 faith leaders from across the U.S. This project and other public education work with faith leaders in HRC's Project One America states and HRC's Religion and Faith Program is made possible in part by the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.