Discouragement, Perspective

Creating: When Discouragement Hits

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

It hit me out of nowhere. I shouldn’t have been feeling it at all. I’d just come home from a writing weekend away from home. Gifted to me by my husband. I’d had fun with my characters, taking time to let my mind wander and really understand their story.

I came home to laughter . . . 

And piles.

Sometimes it’s the reminder of the undone that triggers discouragement.
Piles of mail.

Towels that have been sitting out for a week.

A grease-laden stove that no one cleaned. 

A boy’s attitude on a school morning.

Things they’ve left out rather than taken those few seconds to put away. 

Again.

It hit me this morning. Discouragement. It’s hard to concentrate on what fills my spirit when everything I see saps my soul.

I’m seeing discouragement is also my response to those things undone. Sometimes, I confess, I put on the martyr’s cloak. “No one will do this but me. So get it done.” 

And I fill my day with “get it done” things, leaving no time to fill my spirit.

And . . . discouragement takes root.

This morning, my house is an outward reflection of my inward condition. Cluttered. Messy. Sometimes it feels too hard to get everything in order. 

Do I ignore it?

Do I set aside the things I want to spend time creating and clean everything up?

It’s not that we haven’t trained our boys to clean up after themselves. To do their jobs thoroughly. 

Sometimes it’s just laziness. And not seeing things through my eyes.

They don’t see that AWANA book sitting on the table. But they saw the newspaper on top of it. 

What am I not seeing in my heart?

I see the clutter of daily living covering over other things.

My heart’s hunger for time with Jesus.

My heart’s yearning to be satisfied creatively. To work on my story. To find beauty in my day and capture it with my camera.

Sometimes, we need to look beyond the clutter to the important.

We need to ask God to give us eyes to see with His perspective.

Could it be possible it’s important to Him that I—that we—create in the ways He’s crafted within us? 

Some of us write. Others paint. Take pictures. Weld. Make pottery. Work with yarn and fabric. Stamp. Scrapbook. And other things.

He didn’t create us to function as automatons, so focused on doing and accomplishing that we miss out on the simple joy of creating. 

We are made in God’s image, and that includes being creative like He is.

There is no sin in taking time to fill ourselves and create. 

I feel like I need to give myself permission to ignore the piles and the grease and simply fill my spirit. 

Something refreshing washes over me when I spend time creating. Joy? Fulfillment? God’s pleasure?

It’s when we fill up on those things that emulate and honor God that discouragement’s roots lose their grip in the soil of our hearts.

Those weighing-down thoughts can be pulled out and replaced with the light of God’s joy.

That’s what I’m focusing on today. 

The piles will still be there when I am done creating.

What about you? How do you make time for creativity in your life? How do you combat discouragement?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, we need to look beyond the clutter to the important.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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40 thoughts on “Creating: When Discouragement Hits”

  1. What a wonderfully liberating essay, Jeanne.

    The piles will indeed be there.

    I don’t think of myself as creative, but I do deal with discouragement every day, and fighting it often requires a different approach every day. It can be pretty tough, sometimes. I guess that what I’ve learned is that it’s OK to be discouraged; it’s OK to despair, as long as I try to keep moving forward. I don’t have to enjoy it or feel good about it; I just have to show up.

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    1. Thank you, my friend. I so appreciate your perspective. I thought about how you’ve grappled with a lot of discouragement through the course of this illness. I think the best way we move forward when discouraged is to keep our eyes on the Lord. It’s so much easier said than done sometimes. I don’t have the strength in myself to do it without Him. I love the reminder that our role is to show up. Great truths, friend!

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  2. Beautiful post in photo and thoughts, Jeanne. It is so true that as we step away from our discouragement and set our focus on Him, His beauty, His creation – we recognize what is important and most necessary. And somehow He makes the piles seem smaller and the chores easier 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Joanne! Sometimes, I find discouragement lingers even when I try to step away. It’s an intentional re-focusing my thoughts on a bigger picture, or/and beyond the mess in my day that helps me to not get sucked in by discouragement. It does seem like after I have time to create those piles and to-do lists seem less daunting.

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  3. Jeanne,
    How true…the piles will always be there. But, sometimes I find, if I take a break and spend time with God, or work on my writing, or go out and arrange flowers and get my hands good and dirty, I find new energy to tackle the piles….or I’m so exhausted I want to take a nap lol. Either way, our creative juices have a way of renewing us and I agree wholeheartedly that we need to take a break from the mundane (aka the laundry, cleaning, etc.) to embrace the side of us that puts us in touch with our Creator. Maybe I’m just rationalizing….but it works for me 🙂
    Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Thank you, Bev. Yes. Spending time with God is pivotal for me too. I think that’s been part of my struggle these past couple of months. My times with the Lord have been shortened and hurried. I miss times of deeper fellowship with Him. I’ve been more intentional about keeping that time as a higher priority.

      I enjoy planting flowers in my planters, usually in May, and caring for them (yes, I talk to them!) through the summer.

      And yes to naps! Those can definitely be refreshing.

      I loved all your thoughts here! Thank you for sharing what refreshes you, my friend!

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  4. Yes, the piles will always be there. That’s why I like to keep my family on a schedule/routine so there’s time for everything: God, chores, school, creativity. Clutter is such a distraction to my creativity anyway . 😉

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    1. Kelly, we keep a general routine. It’s been harder these past couple of years with my boys in secondary school. Schedules have changed. Hormones sometimes make them forgetful . . . which means more running for me. 🙂 Clutter is a huge distraction to my creativity too. Thanks for chiming in!

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  5. I have felt this pain many times. The thing that has helped me the most recently is applying some of the principles I learned reading Allen Arnold’s book The Story of With. It was a revelation to me to understand how God wants to work with me, instead of me trying to do everything on my own. His anointed words have been a sort of salvation from the stress of life happening all around me when I just want to write. If you haven’t read it – I highly recommend that you do. I have gone back to re-read the places I highlighted and remind myself what or Who I’m seeking. Blessing to you today, friend.

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    1. Jan, I so enjoyed Allen’s book! I gleaned much from it. I probably need to go back through and read my highlighted sections too. Thanks for that suggestion. I’ve been much more intentional about doing life with God, rather than trying to accomplish everything on my own and then talking with Him as an after though.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, friend!

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  6. My mom used to say ‘the laundry will always be there.” I think we were actually shopping at the time and I was worried about the money I would spend when bills needed to be paid! But somehow the comment still fit. Doing things, maybe even buying that item that spurs creativity to be who you are, brings out the inner you so those piles of stuff don’t seem so overwhelming. Instead it becomes stuff to be dealt with when the timing is right. We become peaceful about the ‘piles’ so can still create if called to at that moment. I’m still a work in progress for sure to be more creative and peaceful no matter the chaos that seems to surround me! May you have a filled day of creative, peaceful, and focused moments on exactly what God wants you to be present in…the creative gift of His presence.

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    1. Lynn, that’s a great saying your mom had. I think God wants the inner us to come out. You have me wondering if, when I feel the pressure to get things done rather than create, I am stifling the “inner me.” Hmmmm.

      I can definitely attest to the fact that, when I’ve had time to create, I feel more relaxed and happy. Endorphins are plentiful! 🙂

      Thank you for your wishes for a day filled with creativity. I didn’t have that today, but I’m looking forward to that soon! I’m so thankful for you, friend!

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  7. I agree, the amount of things to do and the clutter can lead to discouragement at times. I love this reminder: “Sometimes, we need to look beyond the clutter to the important.” I think if we waited until all the work was done before doing something creative it would probably never happen so it is good to take a break from time to time and do something that restores us.

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    1. Lesley, I’m learning that I’m too quick to focus on completing the to-do’s at the expense of my creativity. Sometimes creating is more important than dealing with the clutter because it fills me. And there are times when I need to be filled so I can deal with the clutter and to-do’s. 🙂

      Yes, taking a break is a good thing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeanne, I couldn’t agree more that filling up on God protects us from the downward spiral of discouragement. Finding time and making time for creativity keeps serenity flowing in my world. I love how your mother-heart examines your own thoughts and actions too. You’re a good example to other parents; thank you.
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

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  9. Perfect thoughts for me today! I easily focus on what is wrong instead of what is right. I look at my messiness and only see brokenness rather than how God sees me. I forget to take time to just be with God because that refreshes my soul and His.

    These words hit me between the eyes with truth: It’s hard to concentrate on what fills my spirit when everything I see saps my soul. Thank you for speaking out loud what my heart has been thinking.

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    1. Mary, I have that same tendency…to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. I’m thankful God sees beyond our messiness and into the beautiful creations He’s making from each of His children. He sees the messes we are now, but He also sees what He knows we are becoming. Amazing how He can create after He’s created, isn’t it?

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights here, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, you have written words that touch my heart and soul. I like order and when things are not I have such struggle. I am also touched by the sentence…”hard to concentrate on what fills my spirit when everything I see saps my soul.” I am distracted by the news and lose my peace. I have to be so careful as to how much news I let myself read and then how I handle it. Thanks for these words.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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    1. Thank you for your sweet encouragement, Linda. I’m like you when it comes to the news. I can’t spend too much time reading or watching it. That saps my soul. May we be intentional about seeing beyond what’s around us and glimpsing God’s love and beauty in our days.

      I am so thankful for your visit!

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  11. It’s so easy to see the clutter and feel we need to take care of it, isn’t it? Thank you for reminding us to look beyond it to what’s important and to value the channels of creativity God has given us to reenergize. “It’s when we fill up on those things that emulate and honor God that discouragement’s roots lose their grip in the soil of our hearts.” Oh, so true! Thank you! Love and hugs to you, Jeanne!

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    1. Trudy, it is SO easy to see the clutter. It’s all around my house right now, and it’s about driving me nuts! But, it’s when I give myself permission to create in spite of the clutter that I feel refreshed. Isn’t it amazing how many ways God has given us to be creative and to emulate Him?

      I’m so thankful for your visit and your thoughts. Sending you love and hugs too, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jeanne, it’s the been there/done that scenario. I have learned that until everything around me is in its place I cannot create a single thing. So before a project I do a thorough cleanup – then during the project? My office is a mess. Open reference books, bibles, scribbled page templates, pens, mugs, paper towels. BUT those things represent progress for me. When the project is done? Another major clean up. It’s a system that works for me. Outside my office? MUST be clutter free but remember, we are empty nesters!!! Visiting from Holley’s today where we live one house apart!

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    1. Susan, I love having things in order. And you pointed out a good thing. I have two teen boys at home, and they take energy and add stress and stuff into my days and home. 😉 Mind you, I’m not complaining. I just need to remember this is part of my reality. 🙂

      Ideally, I’m like you. I LOVE having everything in its place before I sit down to create. So glad we’re neighbors this week!

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  13. Interesting how the better we feel, the worse we can feel when ordinary life happens. Those situations would bother me too, but especially after such a wonderful time. What a thoughtful husband you have!

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    1. Sarah, I have found that sometimes I come home from time away with the expectation that real life will look different somehow. Then, when the same old things happen, I can become discouraged. I’m having to grapple with that and to take the time away that God gives me as a gift, not necessarily as a life-chang, if that make sense. 🙂 And yes, God blessed me with a pretty amazing husband. 🙂

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  14. Jeanne, isn’t it frustrating how quickly discouragement can invade hearts and minds that have just been refreshed? And over such insignificant things, too. Ugh. It’s happened to me more than I want to admit. I love your advice to ignore the piles for a time and focus on what God has gifted us to do. The piles will still be there later, but the thoughts, the inspiration, the energy to create might not be. And I also love the photos … I miss your beautiful mountains, my friend!

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    1. Yes, Lois. It is frustrating! I’m having to remind myself to look at those “just coming back” situations through different eyes. I am working to be better at taking my own advice. I’m not good at it all the time, but I’m getting better. 🙂 We need to remember it’s okay for us to take time to create. I’m so glad you experienced our beautiful mountains, my friend!

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  15. Dear Jeanne,

    Have been looking forward to reading this blog post all day.

    You nailed it here; sometimes it’s what’s undone that stresses us the most.

    I smiled (sorry) when I read about the martyr’s cloak.

    I smiled because it resonated with me.

    Loved what you said towards the end:

    “What am I not seeing in my heart?

    I see the clutter of daily living covering over other things.

    My heart’s hunger for time with Jesus.

    My heart’s yearning to be satisfied creatively. To work on my story. To find beauty in my day and capture it with my camera.

    Sometimes, we need to look beyond the clutter to the important.”

    Your blog post reminded me of the importance of just enjoying life, this immense gift we’ve got for free.

    You asked how I make time for creativity in my life?

    For me it boils down two principles:

    1. I show up in the office every day, Monday to Friday, with the same setup.

    2. I’m not checking e-mail, phone, Social Media, the first 6 hours of my workday.

    These two rules work well for me.

    God bless you and your work.
    Edna Davidsen.

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    1. Edna, thanks for your encouraging words! Your principles are spot on. Being diligent with our environment and how we spend our time. Both important elements that can factor into creativity. I’m thankful for your shared insights!

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  16. That’s my problem. I’ve been wanting to write a few different books for a few years now. I continue to make all the excuses. I find ways not too. Then I get frustrated and get mad at myself. I’m not the greatest writer/communicator in the world. However, I know what God has put on my heart. In the meantime, I journal, blog, speak, and run in order to get out what I know is inside of me. That was a very real and thought-provoking article I needed to read. Thank you.

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    1. Nate, you touch on something else too. I don’t know if this is you, but some of what you said has described this facet of me: fear. Sometimes it’s scary to start something new and big . . . like writing a book. It’s a big commitment, with no guarantees in the future. Writing a book is a day-by-day decision to set aside time and write. Even if you’re scared. 🙂

      I’m glad you’ve found other ways to let out some of your creative nature. It sounds like God has opened doors for you to exercise creativity as you are ministering on His behalf. I’m glad this post left you thinking. 😉

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  17. Jeanne, this is so hard for me, too. I think early rising has to be the key. My girls are away from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays now, and that’s opening time for just me and work. But I think I need better habits. When I was writing my novel, I got up early every morning because I couldn’t wait to write. But I’ve been in an editing phase for a while. I started in a crit group, so I’ve been working on one chapter every two weeks. I’ve been reluctant to start book #3, because I feel like so much still hangs in the balance–getting my plots straight, etc. But I think I need to start that book #3. Early rise, work early. And then use the rest of the day for my loves and cleaning, etc. It’s hard to do. When you feel unsure of direction. I’m so with you. Lord, just point me in the right direction. ❤

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    1. Shelli, when I get up early to write, I LOVE it. I have no clutter in my thoughts, no boys clamoring for my eyes, no phones buzzing around me. Just quiet. Uncomplicated. it’s just hard to get up early when I’ve gone to bed too late the previous night. That’s where I’m beginning to make new habits . . . getting to be early so I can get up early. It’s. SO. Hard. Hugs, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Jeanne,
    I came hoping to find a contribution to the FMF linkup, but instead found your heart and mine both intertwined once again! 🙂 This weeks’ prompt is the word “other” and oh, sister, that Holy Spirit is calling us both. You worship when you create. I LOVE this post!
    Let us sing and dance together. You have blessed me so much this year with your timely texts and your love and care and concern. Thank you. God has used you so much!
    Love,
    Tammy
    (#43 on fmf this week)

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    1. Awww, friend. My last few weeks have been insanely busy. Too much to share here. But, I am so blessed that you stopped by here. You are such a blessing in my life.

      We DO worship when we create. Isn’t God amazing to allow this?! Your friendship is a blessing to me too. Can’t even tell you how much. I hope your coming week holds much joy and a little bit of space for creating. Sending you a big Colorado hug!

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  19. Dear Jeanne, judging by the number of comments, there must be a whole tribe who feel t b e same as you. I chalk it up to being a bit ocd. Good grief, I can’t even sit down in my chair in our room for quiet time until the bed is made in the mornings. I’ll bet the Lord gets a chuckle, or a headache, at the minutiae we allow to take us off our creative courses. Blessings on you, your writing, and your fam!

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    1. Alice, me? OCD? I know not of what you speak . . . ahem. Okay, I may know a little about what you may or may not be talking about. 😉 I’ve learned to ignore some piles in order to have quiet time or even to write. But, it’s when they grow and multiply that I struggle. I agree. So much of what derails my creativity is minutiae. Thank you for those blessings. I’ll aim some back your way, friend!

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  20. I love that you’ve given us a sweet permission to go and create, live our lives, find the beauty in today instead of being held hostage to discouragement, Jeanne..

    This is beautiful. And necessary. Bless you for showing us how to fight against the taskmasters of our souls.

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    1. Linda, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need someone to tell me it’s okay to let the piles go and just create. Sometimes our best living comes through creating, don’t you think? Thank you so much for stopping by, my friend!

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