On the Verge of Discouragement

I think we’ve all been on the verge of tears before—that moment when you sense the tears are on their way, but they haven’t formed just yet.

But what about being on the verge of discouragement, when you sense that it’s close?

Let me explain what I’m learning:

I woke up feeling “off” today. My mind wandered to the things that upset me yesterday. And I started remembering the past and the times I’d been manipulated by others. Then some of the toxic relationships God has removed from my life came to mind. Throw in a lot of waiting, and BAM! I was on the verge of discouragement.

It’s like teetering. Which way will I go? Fall over into the muck of discouragement, or lean into God who is waiting to catch me?

The choice is mine. No one can make it for me.

I’ve fallen into discouragement before, and I can tell you it’s no fun. It can take days or even weeks to get “unstuck.” Thankfully, God picked me up and wiped the mud from my face every time.

But God doesn’t leave me (or you!) to deal with this teetering all on our own. His Holy Spirit nudges us to focus on Him. A friend may call to encourage us. We may “stumble” on a video about trusting God. We may even get a message from a co-worker about something good coming our way.

Here’s what I think: Satan roams through the earth, looking for someone to devour. One way he can devour is by filling our minds with consuming, discouraging thoughts, rendering us useless for God’s calling in our lives.

The enemy reminds us of our failures and past hurts, and he lies to us by telling us it’s going to happen again. So we build walls around our hearts to keep people out AND to stop ourselves from stepping out and making more mistakes.

These walls bring isolation. Now we’re dealing with discouragement and loneliness. It’s a double whammy.

Satan wants us to “roam” through our minds, SEARCHING for all the trash, so we’ll pick it up. When it’s right there in our hands, we’ll focus on it.

God, on the other hand, tells us in His Word to think about what’s lovely, pure, noble etc. (see Scripture below). He wants us to think about what’s praiseworthy. All of those things point to God! God wants our focus to be on Him and what He’s doing.

A cherished, intimate memory we have with God can keep us from falling into discouragement by keeping our minds fixed on Him.

So when we’re on the verge of discouragement and our minds are swaying, we have a choice to make:

We can either focus on Satan’s trash, all the littering in our minds, and call it a day. Later, crying ourselves to sleep.

Or…

We can cry out to God and say, “Yes, Lord. Pull me in closer to You! Help me to focus on You and all the good You’re doing in my life.”

Which will you choose, my friend?

Me?

No more teetering in the middle of this teeter-totter with one foot down and one foot up. I’m getting off of this thing.

I’m leaning into God, grabbing onto His hand, and giggling with anticipation for whatever He has in store for this day.

And I’m expecting JOY. Lots and lots of joy in His presence.

“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’”

Job 1:7 NIV.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8 NIV.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8 NIV.

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3 NIV.

Dear Student

dear student

I’m writing this while I’m in my pajamas. Maybe you’re reading this while you’re wearing yours. You don’t know me, and I’m not going to pretend like I know you and what you’re going through today.  But I want to tell you something:

I want to love you.

Well that sounds weird, huh? A little goofy like I’m going to send you a Valentine ’s Day card in the mail or a creepy text. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes or maybe you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about.

How can a woman in her forties (sheesh I’m old!) who lives in the country with shaky internet service, plays Wipeout on the Wii with her teenage daughter, and doesn’t even have a Twitter account love you?

Because I know Someone who can. I know Someone who really knows you.  He knows what hurts your feelings, what you’re dreaming about, who you like, what annoys you, and everything in between.  He sees you struggling in that class and how hard it is when the other kids “get it.” He loves hearing you crack up laughing.  And He hurts with you when you break down and cry.

Maybe you know Him too. Or maybe you’ve only heard His name when someone is mad.

His name is Jesus Christ.

Do you know Him?  Well He knows you.  Jesus was there when you were born and He has loved you every single moment since.

Let me tell you, if your bedroom door is closed, He won’t just barge in. You see, He loves you enough to let you have a choice. He loves you enough to knock.

He’s hoping you’ll open the door and let Him into your life.

You want to know something pretty amazing about Him? When you get on the bus in the morning or hop in the car on your way to school, you can ask Him to come with you and He will. Maybe the school won’t let Him in, but you can. He will walk the halls with you, help you if you’re getting bullied, and calm you down if you forgot to study for that big test.

He will remind you that you are never alone no matter what and that you are SO important! There’s only one of you in this whole world, and there’s a reason you were born.  He wants to help you figure all that stuff out.  (Oh, and there really are great things coming your way, no matter what anyone else says.)

So this is how I’m going to love you: I’m going to pray for you that you take Jesus with you to school.  Because when you’ve got Jesus, love goes with you.

Love, your new yet “old” friend,

Joey 🙂

“Look! I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20 NLT.)

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7 NIV.)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son [Jesus] into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:7,9 NIV.)

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 11-12 NIV.)