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Confession: Sometimes I Struggle With Discouragement (Part 1)

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It was a regular Monday morning, but I just couldn’t shake the icy grip of agitation clinging to my shoulders like a tightly knit sweater. My emotions felt itchy, tingling with unanswered questions, changing seasons and the fear that I just wouldn’t measure up. I honed in on the uncomfortability. I focused on what I didn’t know. I took my eyes off of truth. And I lost sight of who God made me to be.

Some days I struggle with discouragement. I focus on what I don’t know, on my failures, and on my doubts, and simultaneously push pause on becoming the woman God made me to be. I’m learning that in these moments where I choose to fix my gaze determines if I’ll stand back up and continue on the journey, or if I’ll stay down, embracing the posture of a defeated warrior.

Frustrating, irritating, and just downright yucky days will come. Days where mess-ups are made, favorite dishes broken, relationships jumbled, tempers flared, dreams altered, and goals left unaccomplished. And it’s ok. These days are a part of this beautiful thing we call life. We need to embrace how we feel, but then choose to worship Jesus despite our temporary feelings. We must choose to stand up, shift our attention, and focus our eyes on the One who is greater than our current emotions, posture, thoughts, attitude and circumstances.

I appreciate this example modeled by David throughout Psalms. While one chapter depicts unbearable sorrow and seemingly unending grief, mere verses later as we enter a new chapter, we find David praising Jesus wholeheartedly. And you know what’s really cool? When David chooses to move from despair to praise, nothing has necessarily changed in his story—he doesn’t have new answers to his situation or a set of fresh circumstances. He simply embraces his human feelings and then chooses to trust God with his emotions.

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!” {Psalm 42:5}

Hannah’s story also resonates deeply with my heart’s cry to fight the tendrils of discouragement and despair that attempt to derange my attitude, my posture, and who I choose to be. In 1 Samuel 1, we find Hannah “crushed in soul” begging God to relieve her pain, to hear her cries, to notice the anguish she has been drowning in. Here’s the game-changing piece for us—as Hannah wept and embraced her broken heart, she prayed, sharing her emotions with Jesus. Then, standing up, Hannah left “her face radiant.” Hannah didn’t leave with new answers or a different set of circumstances. She left her pain and requests at the feet of Jesus and her time with Him transformed her. She left a different woman, a woman not broken by her circumstances, but made whole by her trust in her Savior.

I want to walk with that kind of faith. At the end of the road, I want to be known as a woman who simply knew how to trust Jesus. And I don’t want to only trust Him with the big things like who I’ll marry or what my future may hold. I want to trust Him wholeheartedly with the little things as well—the things that I try to control—the bad-hair-day-moments, the I-woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed mornings, and the I-really-need-more-coffee kind of afternoons. When my skin is crawling with agitation at the normal rhythms of life, I want to embrace that I’m frustrated and discouraged, but I don’t want to live there. I will not live defeated. I want to live unstoppable.

“She was unstoppable. Not because she didn’t have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.”

She continued on despite them. Hannah did. David did. And I want my story to say “Emily did” as well.

Discouraging days will come. What we do with them is what matters. Recognize how you feel and then choose where you place your hope, where you put your trust. What we do next with discouraging emotions is what matters, what shapes us, what helps us grow, and what helps us become.

On Monday I’ll be sharing some practical ways to take that next step when discouragement comes knocking on the door of our hearts. Stay tuned!

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