At some point, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask, “Why do I feel this way?” Really, what is going on in me and why am I so wrecked?
This isn’t solution finding. It’s soul digging. It’s in search of the reason behind the reason. It’s not about why did so-and-so say that thing or what could I have done to make this different? This is not a “How can I fix this?” question. This is a “What is going on in me?” question.
I can’t answer that for you, but I can tell you that when I’ve been the most wrecked… when I’ve walked into my senior pastor’s office and tried to quit. When I’ve cried myself to sleep or screamed at the sky in angst or just crawled in bed hoping today was a bad dream… when I’ve felt seriously discouraged… the most loving people I know have gently, and sometimes firmly, sent me tracing back on my steps in search of truth.
So, I can’t answer the why question for you. But I can suggest some places to go looking- places I’ve found the answer before.
BUSYNESS. Busyness has a way of destroying our souls. It has a way of wrecking us inside by causing us to focus on everything but the inside. The tyranny of the urgent starts to pay it’s toll and somewhere, the doing too much bug started eating away at the foundation of your life and it needs fixing. We start getting too little sleep. We take on too much. Life starts to fall apart and our priorities get all out of whack. When this happens, discouragement can be the visual symptom of this often invisible cancer many times.
CALLING. My youth pastor once sent me on that trail as a youth pastor myself. He told me, “Brian, this is about your calling. You need to go back and ask yourself why you got into this in the first place.” When you struggle with purpose and meaning, sometimes the solution is go digging for your calling. What was it that moved you to move in the first place? When you find the answer to that, you can climb out of discouragement on the ladder of God’s call for you.
FEAR. Sometimes I’m wrecked because I’m simply afraid of what’s ahead. Sometimes I’m afraid of being a failure. Fear can be crippling and it tends to discourage easily. When you’re scared of the unknown, be cautious of giving too much credibility to the emotion of discouragement. You’re already leaning in the direction of defeat and discouragement only fuels that downward spiral.
PLEASING PEOPLE. Oh my, if there’s ever a disease in the church that brings on the discouragement is the desire to be at peace with people that so subtly leads to the passion to please people. And it’s toxic. It will leave you happy one day and brutally disappointed the next. If you’re discouraged because you’re trying to please people. Call it out.
ADDICTION. When you’re defeated in one area already, it’s super easy for discouragement to become a pattern. If you secretly are losing in one area, and then anther wounds you, it’s easy to cast blame on the wrong thing. If deep inside me I’m struggling to let the Holy Spirit win in one are of my life, it’s easy to get discouraged all the more when another area of my life begins to fall apart.
How about you… what other areas have you found tend to be the source of the source of discouragement? What has tended to wound your soul and set you up for the emotion called discouragement?