Discouragement. Meh. The very word “discouragement” makes me… well, feel discouraged. But truthfully, I’ve been experiencing a season where discouragement has been very real and very demanding. Remaining hopeful or full of joy has been a challenge and surviving the chaos of this busy season has often felt debilitating.
Do I want to write about this? Tell the world about my current season of discouragement? Nope. Not at all. In fact it’s why I haven’t been able to write. I’ve tried to write around the other stuff. The moments of clarity or verses that have been helping me remain focused but they all fell flat. They felt fake. Forced. & Really, just dishonest.
The truth… the honest truth, is that fighting discouragement has been very real battle. Some of it my own doing. Some of it the world’s doing. But it’s been a heavy season. Think globally at all that has been happening…
The hurricanes and tornadoes and wildfires
The shootings and violence and current political tension of our nation.
The hatred and violence and evil that has been permeating my news feeds.
& The Shootings… So. Many. Shootings.
This is heavy, heavy stuff. Stuff I have gotten lost in but stuff that, unfortunately, also extends to my very “local” life. Once pain and suffering were distant and somewhat disconnected from my little life in Memphis, Tennessee but now I am walking through some difficult circumstances with those I love most.
Walking through loss & disappointment.
Walking through injustice & hate & division.
Walking through confusion & change & overwhelmingly burdensome circumstances.
Life is hard. & Discouragement can come easy.
But I honestly believe in a better way. A way beyond pain and hurt and violence. A way beyond the social media smiles and perfectionism and constant comparison. A way that is raw and honest and truthful.
And that is why I wrote these words (and actually posted them). Words of honesty. Words of truth. Words of…. A heavy reality that any given moment can strike any of us. Because it’s a road many of us have traveled and a road some of us didn’t expect. See, I believe, there is power in naming our discouragements. Discouragements with our jobs, kids, marriages, country, cities, or current set of circumstances. But I also believe there is power in taking (small) steps forward. Forward through the discouragement. Forward through the pain. Forward through the complexity of the plan you didn’t anticipated.
And that power is what I am in constant need of. The power to move. The power to press on. The power, not in my own abilities or positive thinking, but in the God who sustains and enables and empowers.
These words are not for those on the mountain top. Those embracing the high of life and basking in its glory. Those of you, “mountain high-ers”– SOAK IT IN. That is a blessed and sacred season of life. No, these words are for those of you in the valley. Those approaching or embarking or stuck in a season of D I S C O U R A G E M E N T.
On the mountain top we praise but in the valley deep we cling.
We cling to the promises of hope and joy and redemption. We cling to those around us encouraging us on. We cling to those ahead of us reminding our weak and tired spirits that the road to the mountain top is often filled with switchbacks and rest stops and lots and lots of fighting.
Fighting to press on.
Fighting to see the blessings.
& Fighting to not let the bad outweigh the good.
But see it’s in the fight that we become stronger. We become bolder. We become braver. We become KINDER, more empathic people.
People who learn to ask for help. People who learn to deeply love those in pain. People who are doing (& have done) the work it takes to make this world truly a better place.
So yes, that’s a lot of “rah-rah you can do it.” But you know what… sometimes we need a little of that. Sometimes we need a little reminder that we ALL get bogged down with a wave of discouragement from time to time. For some it’s a battle. For some it’s a journey. & For some it’s a season. I don’t know what it is for you but my encouragement is this… FIGHT.
Fight to remember the GOOD.
Fight WITH those who love you most (bring people into your pain).
& Fight knowing it’s not (just) your battle.
I’ve always loved Moses’ words to the people of Israel at the climax of the Exodus. The Egyptians were nearing, the Red Sea was but an obstacle, and all looked lost. The people were freaking out (rightfully so) & Moses turns & says these prolific words in Exodus 14:14
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU; you need only to be still.”
Amen to that incredibly life-giving truth. That it is The L O R D who will fight for us. The L O R D who will be with us. & The L O R D who will deliver us.
I guess our challenge is in the remembering. Remembering we “need only to be still.” Remembering to let go. Remembering to trust. & Remembering to stand firm & remain faithful when our Red Sea is brushing against our toes and the Egyptians are taunting our faith in the distance.
In that moment; that moment of pure desperation & exhaustion & discouragement…. REMEMBER you need only to be still [THE LORD] (not circumstances, people, opportunities, or any sort of change) will fight for you.
& Let your hope and trust and peace lie in that deeply complicated and yet freeing truth. One day at a time.