Faith, Mothering, Time With God

Discouragement: 4 Ways to Move Beyond Discouragement

Crumby counter

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

As I walk through the garage door into the kitchen, they’re the first thing that catch my eye. On the table, the counters, even in the pantry.

Crumbs. They’re everywhere.

It doesn’t matter how many times I wipe things down, they’re magic. They keep appearing.

Especially when the boys rush from breakfast to the car for school. Somehow they never see the crumbs they’ve left behind.

Always I see them with my mama, want-a-clean-house eyes.

Pantry crumbs
At times, they make me crazy. I feel my shortcomings in training my kids to clean up after themselves. I feel the frustration of knowing I’ve tried, and they choose to ignore.

They’re small, but they’re messy. And pesky crumbs require intentional effort to clean up. How badly do I want a clean kitchen?

Badly enough I’ll wet the cloth, swipe crumbs into my hands, and throw them away. Usually before I get onto the productive things I want to do that day.

These crumbs have me thinking about my heart, my life.

What are the crumbs laying on the counters of my heart that cause me to feel like a failure, to get frustrated, because I just can’t get a handle on them?
Table crumbs
Discouragement is a biggie. This year has unfolded differently than I anticipated. When I looked on the blank pages of our 2016 calendar, I didn’t foresee tearing my ACL on January 24th. Or that I would receive disappointing writing news in early February. Or surgery on my knee.

Discouragement’s crumbs keep appearing at unexpected times. I didn’t know how challenging the mental aspect of healing from my surgery would be.

At times, the frustration of limited mobility,

my knee’s slow response to treatment,

the off-and-on pain,

and restless nights sap me of the ability to stay upbeat.

I also didn’t anticipate the impact my writing disappointment would have on my mindset.

I know these are small things compared to what many people deal with.
Bird nesting stuff
Discouragement has a way of sneaking into our thoughts and our hearts and coloring everything in gray. We either swipe its influence away with the cloth of God’s word, or we allow discouragement to infiltrate our mindsets.

We must be intentional if we want to overcome discouragement. To sweep its crumbs under the rug in our thoughts is to invite it to come in and make itself at home.
Encouraging Words

 

How do we combat discouragement? Here are a few ideas:

1. Spend time in God’s word. Being purposeful in reading His word daily helps. Opening the Bible and having a notebook for writing down insights, prayers, and thoughts has been invaluable as I battle the discouragement that creeps in.
2. Talk to God about it. In my pursuit of authenticity this year, God challenged me to share my emotions with Him. And I have. I’m learning to be honest with Him. When the crutches left me with searing pain in my side, I told God exactly how I felt. The beautiful thing is, He didn’t chastise me for feeling that way. Or for being selfish and willful. He listened. And He reminded me that just that morning, I’d prayed for His plans to be done in my day. He comforted me through my family. Morning light on flowers
3.  Ask trusted friends to pray for you. When we share a piece of our hearts with friends, some of discouragement’s hold is loosened. When they pray for us, God works. He begins replacing discouraging thoughts and feelings with hope and a better perspective.
4. Keep your thoughts on things that are true. When we fix our thoughts on truth, on God’s word, Who He is, on remembering what He’s done,  and what He’s doing in our lives, discouragement’s voice grows quieter.

Peter near clean counter

Just as I continue to wipe down my counters and table each morning, I will choose to swipe away the crumbs discouragement leaves on the counter of my heart.

And maybe, one day, my reminders will resonate in my boys’ minds, and they’ll clean their own crumbs up after breakfast.

What about you? When has discouragement made itself at home in your heart? What would you add to my list for combatting discouragement?

Share on Twitter:

Discouragement sneaks into our thoughts and hearts and colors everything in gray. (Click to Tweet)

I’m linking up with Holly Barrett and A Purposeful Faith.

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “Discouragement: 4 Ways to Move Beyond Discouragement”

  1. Great post, great list.

    Only this to add; sometimes you have to face it, that there is no good ending, and aim to die well.

    Not up to saying more, so will let Leo DiCaprio, in ‘Blood Diamond’, speak. It’s a good example.

    Like

    1. Andrew, you are right. There’s not a happily ever after ending for all of us. I know you’re speaking from experience. Thank you for living well in spite of the . . . heck . . . you’re enduring. Thank you for being an encourager, and for stopping by here. You bless me, friend. And I’m praying for you.

      Like

  2. Your words always speak to me, Jeanne! I see our crumbs and raise you adult son crumbs when they come to visit. I must say it is the nature of boys not to ever see crumbs. I just wipe up after them.

    As for the crumbs that fill my heart, I am working on that. My crumbs are the storms that cause fear and threaten to overwhelm me much like your discouragement. I write about them today because life is full of storms. The reminders to get back to God in His word and to talk to God are ones I needed today. I immediately jump to the hard and impassable rather than to God who says I will give you strength and peace.

    I keep thinking when I visit here how fun it would be for us to meet in person. We would have a lot to talk about. Praying for peace for you today, for your sons that their eyes are opened and for the blessing of your words.

    Like

    1. Mary, let me say first, that I would absolutely love to meet you! To hear your story, to hear your voice tell it. 🙂 If there’s ever a way to work it, I’d love it!

      So you’re saying I need to get used to the fact that my boys simply don’t see crumbs?! Sigh. Okay. Good to know. 😉

      Those fear crumbs are hard to overcome. I’m still working on loosening some of those from the counters in my heart too. Storms make things look so much worse than they often are. May we both be quick to talk to God about the things in our lives that feel hard and impassable, and not focus on those.

      I always appreciate your transparency and our visits here, Mary. Thank you.

      Like

  3. I love the visual of wiping away the crumbs of discouragement with God’s word. The word and prayer are two of our weapons to fight those battles. I have a ‘why bother’ crumb and grateful God-wipes come at just the right time to keep me moving.

    Like

    1. Lynn, that “why bother” set of crumbs can be hard to dislodge. And yes, God’s word and prayer are the best things to renew our minds and help us see the things that cause us to think, “Why bother?” May His word encourage you today. Thank you for sharing!

      Like

  4. I like your picture of discouragement being like the crumbs that are left behind. It’s so true that it can sneak into our thinking and affect everything. It is important to be intentional about getting rid of it, and I like your tips for doing that. I love that we can go to God with our feelings of discouragement and be honest with him but that he can also help us move beyond them.

    Like

    1. I’m with you, Carly. I’m so thankful God will listen to our words, and that we can be completely honest with where we’re at without fear of judgment from Him. I’m also thankful that He doesn’t let us stay in that place, but He shows us how to move forward. He renews our minds with His word. Thank you for sharing here today!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love looking through my old journals … reading how God provided or encouraged me … or times of laughter. It’s just a reminder that “this too shall pass” … ❤ If not here, in Heaven.

    Like

    1. Oh, Shelli, that’s a good idea. Choosing to remember when God’s provided in the past reassures us He’s with us, and providing for us in the present. And yes, “this too, shall pass.” 🙂

      Like

  6. Great points to battle discouragement, Jeanne. I’m quite partial to #4 these days – I’ve been trying to be proactive and catch myself before the downward spiral by focusing on what is true vs. those lies that so often snare us. And crumbs … it’s the ones by the toaster that always send me! 😉 Hugs, friend.

    Like

    1. #4 is something I’ve had to come back to a number of times this year, Tiffany. Philippians 4:8 is a verse I pray just about every day. I need that reminder (and God’s help!) to keep my thoughts where they should be—on Him. Laughing about the toaster crumbs. Oy. 😉

      Like

  7. Jeanne, great post! You know, there are all sorts of crumbs of disappointment littered throughout our lives, isn’t there? Loved this question: “What are the crumbs laying on the counters of my heart that cause me to feel like a failure, to get frustrated, because I just can’t get a handle on them?”

    Like

    1. Yes, Tara. I believe we all deal with disappointments in our lives. Bringing them to God and talking through them is sometimes the first step to keep them from becoming discouragement. So glad you stopped by, friend.

      Like

  8. Oh Jeanne … as one who has been thrown for a loop more times than I can count this year, I totally get what you’re saying here. Your challenges may seem small compared to what others are facing, and mine definitely seem small compared with yours, but discouragement doesn’t need a lot of raw material to work with, does it? Your four suggestions are so valuable and beneficial … I’ve especially appreciated the prayers of trusted friends and the encouragement I’ve found in the most obscure Bible passages these past few weeks. I hope you feel better soon, in every possible way!

    Like

    1. So true, Lois. Discouragement doesn’t need much raw material to work with. I, too, am thankful for trustworthy, praying friends. I love how God speaks to us right where we are through those “obscure” Bible passages. He’s been doing some of that with me too. 🙂 Thanks for the well-wishes. They’re much appreciated!

      Like

  9. Jeanne- I’m so sorry to here about your surgery and about your writing disappointment! That just means God has something BIGGER for you! I loved what you said “We must be intentional if we want to overcome discouragement.” That is so true. To me, that means that if we want to overcome it, we must DO something! The four ways you specify are spot on. Thank your for this post of encouragment! xoShannon

    Like

    1. Shannon, God is always working, isn’t He? He never wastes a thing in our lives. I agree with you about doing something about discouragement. Thank goodness God helps us work through it, if/when we bring our discouragement to Him. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

    1. I know what you mean, Lisa. I think God is glad when we share what we’re really feeling with Him. No sugar-coating. 🙂 Thanks for the prayers. Sending a few up for you too.

      Like

  10. Just yesterday I felt all of this. Discouraged, defeated, depressed. No real reason. Maybe it’s wonky brain chemicals, maybe it’s something deeper. I don’t know. I do know that this was a great read and a good reminder to do the things I know to do to battle discouragement instead of wallowing it. Thank you, friend!

    Like

    1. I’m sorry you felt discouraged and defeated, Marie. It’s crazy how these feelings just sneak up on us sometimes, and we don’t even know what triggered them. May we both be intentional about battling discouragement, friend!

      Like

  11. Jeanne, can I confess something here? I put off reading this post because it’s all too close to home. Discouragement seems to have morphed into a heavy loaf inside my soul over the last few months. It’s as if SAD has become my permanent state of being. Not a good thing for a woman with my name! And it’s the shame and the sheer hopeless feeling accompanying it that have kept me from even wanting to own up to having this problem. It’s just too raw when tears threaten all the time.
    But this beautiful post is SO helpful and such an inspiration to me. I’m glad I gave in to my better thoughts, saw the necessity to read your words and have found some soul solace here. Speaking of which, would you mind if we traded prayer for one another? Just a thought.. As far as crumbs go, I’ve been seeing God’s grace like crumbs scattered throughout my day, tiny manna moments to gather hungrily and feed myself with. Those are crumbs we can all live with, yes? x ❤

    Like

    1. Joy, I so appreciate your vulnerability. I’m sorry that things have been so discouraging for you lately. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. But, since I can’t, I will definitely take you up on your offer to swap prayers for each other. Keep looking for God’s grace in your life my friend. Keep looking for His fingerprints of love in your days. Praying for you now.

      Like

  12. Jeanne, I don’t have anything to add to your “4 Ways Beyond Discouragement”. You’ve covered the very things I do regularly. Excellent advice here and beautiful sharing from the heart.
    Blessings as you walk in His marvelous will for you ~ Wendy

    Like

Comments are closed.