Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Discouraged Lately?

To say I'm prone to discouragement is likely an understatement. I'm discouraged early and often and lately, it's been a daily battle. What is there to be discouraged about you may ask? For me, it's anything and everything these days.

I'm discouraged that my children are so hateful and disrespectful toward each other and me and their father. I'm then discouraged as I consider that LA and I have sadly set that example for them.

I'm discouraged that I have gained 5 pounds in the last several months. But, then I'm also discouraged that I can't be mature enough to not care, that my vanity is still so great that I obsess about the silly 5 pounds that likely few, if any notice. (Now you will. Ha!)

I'm discouraged by the lack of Christian witness I think my family displays when out in public: kids screaming and hitting each other, me screaming at them or being harsh. But, then I'm discouraged that I have chosen the lifestyle of homeschooling my children which forces us to be in each others' faces all. day. long and potentially creates more context for conflict and more temptation. This leads to the discouraging reminder that other families are homeschooling their (more than 3) children and have a rather peaceful co-existence. They even ENJOY one another's company. When out in public, they are pleasant, smiling, or at very least not drawing all kinds of negative "press" to the homeschooling community.

I'm discouraged by my inconsistency to keep in touch with family members and friends. But, then I realize I'm still trying to figure out how to keep my own little nuclear family clothed and fed most days. That thought discourages me to consider I am 8 years into this mothering thing and STILL haven't figured out how to juggle some rather simple balls of home management AND keep some semblance of relationship with those outside my four walls.

I'm discouraged when I spend too much time on Facebook, twitter or emailing at the apparent neglect of my family's needs, which are obviously great as evidenced by their hateful and disrespectful speech and actions toward one another.

I'm discouraged that after 10 years of marriage, it remains almost as difficult to communicate with my husband as it was when we were first married. In fact, it may even be more difficult now because in our communication we're both tempted to bring in that whole "record of wrongs" we're not supposed to keep.

I'm discouraged that I don't read my Bible more, serve more people at my church or in more capacities, follow through on burdens put on my heart from time to time, particularly the burden to write both here on the blog and personal notes of encouragement or thanks to others.

And, the greatest discouragement of all for me is quite the irony. It's that I'm discouraged!!  Doesn't the Psalm say,
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

So this is one of those life-long, ongoing battles I face and have been facing rather acutely in the last several months. Where do I go with these thoughts? By God's grace, because of His goodness and mercy that runs hard after me day after day, I am not satisfied to let them sit and fester negativity and anxiety in my mind. I do not want these oft repeated, discouraging thoughts to lead me down to the pit of despair where I have been before and never want to go again. Though, I will admit that the temptation to give in to discouragement is STRONG.

So, where do I go?

  •  I pray. 

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

Psalm 40:12, 13

  • I sing.

  • I remind myself of what is true, lovely, pure, excellent, praiseworthy.
God will complete the good work He's begun in me. (Philippians 1:6)
God loves my children more than I love my children, and He is able to begin and complete His good work in them as well.
God's grace is greater than my sin, greater than the sin of my children, greater than my weaknesses and shortcomings. I have two quotes hanging on my kitchen cabinet doors that I look to often lately.

God specializes in using ordinary people whose limitations and weaknesses make them ideal showcases for His greatness and glory. taken from "Biblical Womanhood in the Home" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

God is always bigger than the need. Believing that God is bigger than your situation produces passion in your praise. (And, because of my shortcomings and weaknesses, I can't properly site the source for this.) 

  • I talk
Admittedly, I've been doing less of this lately, and perhaps that is contributing to my overall sense of gloom and doom these past few months. Nevertheless, I do seek out my community of fellow believers in Christ and share the ways in which I'm tempted to give in to discouragement. I ask for prayer. So often God will use others to encourage me with perspective, hope and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight, keep believing in God to be greater than my circumstances. 

  • I journal
Just recently LA came home, and I asked for just a half hour after dinner to sit at our local Target with a cup of coffee and journal. Because he's an amazing husband and very kind to me, he happily obliged knowing it would be for his good as well as mine for me to get away for a bit and journal. I had what I call a "heart dump" to the Lord. Via stream of consciousness, I wrote down all the burdens, anxieties, perplexities, concerns in my head and heart at the time. I believe it was 4 pages long, a list of the gazillion things in my teeny world concerning me that my God is MORE than sufficient to carry. 

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!  
Psalm 102
  • I listen
On the occasion that I don't have a child helping me prepare dinner, I will listen to a sermon online. I often go to desiringgod.org where I will scroll through the abundance of audio sermons by one of my favorite preachers, John Piper. Here's the one I listened to tonight (a re-listen):
  • I wait
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1

It's not a passive wait but a desperately humble one knowing ultimately it is God who must prevail upon my heart, upon my affections and mind. But I trust in Him and His Word. He says that no one whose hope is in Him will be put to shame. So, by God's grace, I will persevere. I will give thanks. I will look for the good, hope in Him, strive to see my life and circumstances through the lens of faith. And, by God's grace I will again be encouraged.