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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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