Discouragement. I have been thinking a lot about discouragement lately. Maybe because I know so many people who are struggling with discouragement right now, or maybe because I am.
I once wrote a song and the opening line says 'A tidal wave of self doubt...'. I think that's how discouragement feels. It's this overwhelming tsunami of negativity that can bear down on you, steal away your breath, and rip your feet out from underneath you. When you are in the midst of a season of discouragement, it's kind of like walking a tight rope... one false move and you will plummet into the depths of hopelessness. Sometimes staying upright on that rope and somehow avoiding the fall is so tiring, you might just slip off from sheer exhaustion. Sometimes resolving to continue the fight is all we can do, hoping that there will be hope on the other side.
I think I've only dealt with depression one time. Maybe I can't even call it that? It was a tough emotional season in my life and the only reason that I would even attach that label is because James pointed out that I was showing signs of depression. I didn't see it in myself. Knowing what a serious toll real depression takes and how difficult that can be to navigate, I don't think I was struggling with real real depression, but it was definitely something more than what I had ever been through previously... I think discouragement is a depression precursor and, if left untreated, discouragement can grow arms and legs and start walking around inside us, taking over and killing anything beautiful that it finds growing. It grows up from a baby disappointment, to a teenage discouragement, right into adulthood hopelessness. Does giving a thing identity make it easier to identify? Does making it easier to identify make it easier to defeat?
I don't know how you walk through discouragement, but I find that the best (and only) way for me to survive and even conquer, is faith. That thing that I am disappointed about? I choose to have faith that even though I didn't get things the way that I think I should get them in the past, the current situation is better... that God didn't allow what He allowed for my hinderance. Or that my stupidity or lack of faith may have caused me to miss out on something I wish I hadn't missed out on, but I serve a God who restores and even though my timing stinks, His never does. That thing that I am discouraged about? I choose to have faith that there IS some hope to cling to. That even though I don't feel the warmth on my face, the sun is still shining. That even though I don't see the other side, there is one. Those feelings of hopelessness? I HAVE to have faith that they are a big fat lie from the enemy of my soul. He is out to steal away my hope, but I choose not to allow the theft, because I know without a doubt that he cannot steal what I do not give him. I choose not to give away my hope. I choose not to give away my joy. I choose not to give away my peace. I choose to stand firm in the faith and knowledge that this current season is NOT the only season...
A season, by definition, is 'a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature' (at least according to dictionary.com). So, if my current season is characterized by hardship, difficulty, loss, struggle, or discouragement, then I look ahead to the next season, believing in faith that it will be a season of joy, growth, prosperity, and beauty. If you're like me, then you are probably thinking that some seasons, especially the difficult ones, last a really long time. Why is that? I think that difficult seasons last as long as they do because there's something important we are supposed to get out of it... and sometimes it's just consequences of bad decisions that take time to unravel. I take hope and a little solace in the fact that my God doesn't waste anything and will take every opportunity I allow for my good and His glory.
It's no small thing... faith. It's bigger than you or I could ever be. If you allow it, faith will fill every inch of you, taking over every fiber of your being and overwhelming every little disappointment or discouragement it finds lurking in the corners of your soul. Faith is a muscle meant to be developed and for every ounce of faith you pour in, it will grow in weight unmeasured. It will breathe light into the darkness and life to the things that we have let atrophy. It's stronger than disappointment, stronger than discouragement, and even stronger than hopelessness, because it is hope.
Let me leave you with this... you might be in your own season of discouragement, but hold on. You are not alone. You are loved beyond measure and chosen. You have a Father that wants nothing more than for you to bring Him your bits of discouragement so that He can lovingly take it away, replacing it with His peace, His hope, His love, and His joy. We bring Him broken things and He replaces them with new things. Every time.
xo, Katie Joy