Discouragement….and lost hope

As I sat praying and pondering recently, I became aware that a deep discouragement has crept into my heart over the past few years……..subtly, but very steadily.

Unmet expectations, my own personal failures, the day in and day out drudgery of life and making ends meet…..(or not), it can really wear on you after a while. Then, if you’re a parent, you carry all the concerns and worries you have over the happiness and well-being of your children, even if they’re grown; maybe even especially if they are grown!!

Truly though, even if everything is relatively fine and no major crises have arisen, just drifting through life, letting it happen with no real thought or purpose, causes a deadness to your soul. If I just go with all the thoughts and feelings that occur naturally, I slowly sink into dullness and despair.

It’s so easy to get into a rut. It’s easy to have no real vision beyond what you have to do just to get through a day, to just exist instead of really living. To dream, to believe, to hope……it takes energy that I don’t always feel like I have!

So I have decided that if I have any hope of not living in this state of discouragement and disappointment, I have to take time each day to be quiet, to listen, to reflect, to pause…..

I examine the thoughts that I have running through my mind. (Have you ever really listened to yourself think? You might be surprised at the diatribe rolling like a stock market ticker tape…) I need to take these thoughts captive instead of letting them run the show.

I remind myself of truths. The ONE resolution I made this year was to read my Jesus Calling devotional each day. The sentiments and bible verses included in these short devotionals, renew my focus and perspective and remind me of the truths that I can stand on, replacing the subtle lies and fears that I have unconsciously embraced.

I think about, and picture, the things I want to see happen in the lives of those I love, as well as in my own. I remind myself of the higher callings on myself and my family, beyond just surviving and getting by.

I start to imagine the endless possibilities to pursue interests and income opportunities for myself and my family.

I pray. I bring all of this before Father, knowing that He loves me and wants what is best for me, and for those I love. I (attempt) to leave it all in His hands.

So, before you form a picture in your mind of me just contentedly sitting quiet and spending an hour or more caught up in rapture and bliss…….let me remind you, I am NOT a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t get up any earlier than I have to, and I do NOTHING before coffee!!!

All those things I mentioned above, they may start with a minute or two of sitting quiet, maybe get my daily reading in, and then the rest often transpires throughout the day as I go about my tasks, my job…..just my real, everyday life. So though I don’t get up an hour earlier etc., just that few short minutes before I am thrown into my day, sets the tone for the rest of the day, mentally.

  • It doesn’t magically make everything go great that day
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated and impatient
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t think, or say, something I shouldn’t

It just means that when I screw up or something goes wrong, I have a mental/spiritual anchor point that I can go back to and launch again from there.

These other things, they don’t define me, and I refuse to let them derail me any longer.

I refuse to let the circumstances of life lie to me anymore about who I am, or about who God is.

I am going to release the things that are not mine to carry, and focus on living, really living

And hoping.

And dreaming.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

—Joshua 1:5, 9

Yet, here you are…..

Life often holds unexpected, unforeseen, and definitely unwelcome surprises.

The specific circumstances can be varied. Sometimes it is bad news, like a job loss, or a diagnosis, or the death of a family member or friend.

Our relationships can be difficult, maybe even fraught with unwelcome pain and heartache. In fact, just about any meaningful relationship, usually involves some times of discord or conflict.

You have been put in a position or situation you never wanted to be in.

Yet, here you are…

So what to do when these unwelcome events transpire?

For me, my bottom line is that I am not in this by myself, and there is Someone bigger than me that is going every step of the way through this, right along with me.

No matter how hard it gets, I have learned that as unwelcome as these difficult times can be, some of my greatest lessons, some of the deepest work in me as a person, and some of my greatest courage and strength, have come out of these difficult and painful times.

To say that I have felt overwhelmed by life some days, is an epic understatement, and I think you know what I mean. You don’t have to have lived very long before you are flooded with thoughts like:

  • This is hopeless…
  • I can’t do this…
  • This is too big…
  • This is too much…
  • I’m not going to make it…

We may want to run, we may want to isolate, we may even want to medicate but we all know, that though those coping methods may help in the moment, they do not provide solutions, and often only create bigger problems.

I don’t know how you will deal with whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Can you just hear though, that no matter how dark it seems, there is hope, there is light, there is healing, there is breakthrough…..if you just don’t give up.

Don’t overlook or underestimate the fact that in spite of everything

Yet, here you are!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18