Getting discouraged is pretty normal. It can happen whether you’re a student, a parent, or a grown man/woman just trying to make it through the week. Stop asking IF you will ever get bummed out by something, and start asking what you can do when this occurs. God says to acknowledge him in all your ways. I think that especially includes those moments when things aren't going the way you hoped.
1. Look Up
Some of the sweetest times in my life are when I allow God to find me when I’m down. My friend Paul calls these times “the jungle.” It’s important to know that these times happen to everyone, and that God’s Spirit is more intimately experienced in your times of greatest need. Be honest with God about what’s going on. Don’t be tempted to get frustrated with him and push away. Take a few minutes to find a quiet spot. With a journal, or through prayer, open up to him about what you’re dealing with. David is famous for pouring out his heart to God in the book of Psalms. God can handle your deepest pain and your raw emotion. Check out this example, and go for it. He can handle it. He's waiting to hear from you.
2. Reach Out
Sometimes, you need to find someone close and let them know what’s going on. I know this can be really hard sometimes. In fact, this might be the cause of some of your discouragement. As a pastor, I know it can be hard to get vulnerable with others. Believe it or not, some people think that all pastors are supposed to be perfect. Even when they want to open up, people can be shocked by what they hear. Sometimes, pastors are even competitive with each other. We often feel the pressure to make everything seem ok. Maybe you've felt that way before. In my own life, I find real freedom in finding people I can trust and getting gut-level honest with them. I hope you have people like this in your life. If I can find them, I bet you can too. I encourage you to pick up your phone, and send a text right now. You don't have to send a paragraph. Just a quick, "Hey - let me know if you have a minute." Be persistent. Don't be afraid to text a couple of people. The enemy love to isolate you. That's one of his key strategies against you. Don't give in.
3. Notice Others
Sometimes, you need to take the focus off of yourself. When I start feeling discouraged about something, I try to remember that there are a lot of people who feel that way all the time. First, this reminds me that I’m not alone. Second, it gives me the opportunity to do some good for others. Every time I get discouraged, I try to pick up my phone and text 3-4 people a meaningful word of kindness or encouragement. I’m not sure if it does any good for the other person, but it does a world of good for me. It helps me to feel empowered and purposeful in the midst of my setback. Pretty soon, my own discouragement begins to dim.
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11
With that, here’s my encouragement to you.
- You are worth more than your success and your failure.
- You are loved by a Mighty God who paid a high price for you.
- In 100 years, the thing you’re worried about now probably won’t matter that much.
- Jesus is your calm in the midst of the storm.
- Jesus loves you more than you can know, and that means everything.
Even if I haven't met you, I would love to pray for you. Send me an email and let me know what you're going through.