I’ve heard it said – whatever it is you feel you need, or are lacking, give THAT away. Need some money? Find a way to be generous with yours. Need some groceries? Invite someone for dinner. Remember the story of the 5 loaves of bread that fed a crowd? Generosity always results in abundance. It just does.
Feeling down? defeated? discouraged? Find someone to encourage.
So that’s why I’m here. Because today – I am discouraged.
Over and over, God tells us to look back – to take a look at what He’s done because it makes looking forward not only easier, but it makes us more joyful and expectant waiting on Him. I need to be able to do that today, so I’m looking back and sharing with you. So this, my friend – is for both of us.
I was seven months pregnant with an almost 2-year-old, and had just left my husband. I moved across the ocean with no car, no job, no home, and no plan. Here I was back at my parents’ house with a failed marriage and an uncertain future.
Talk about feeling like a total loser. That was me.
I sat across the table from an old friend and she looked me square in the face and said, “You’re never gonna make it. You should go back.”
And you know what? I believed her! But I wasn’t goin’ back.
I drove the 30 miles home from her house feeling completely hopeless and helpless, and then nearly passed out in the car (again – 7 months pregnant with a 2-year-old in the car seat). My heart went into a funky arrhythmia and I drove up onto the median two miles from home. It came and went a few times, scared me to death, but I made it home. My heart continued to do this for the next 24 hours until I finally left my son at home with my Dad and drove myself to the emergency room. Yep, got in the car and drove again. Not the brightest of ideas, but yes, that’s what I did.
Well, long story short – I wound up in the hospital a couple of times that month with an arrhythmia, was put on some medications, and eventually had a C-section to deliver my youngest son. Many months I remained on that medication, slowly weaned off, and the physician finally contributed all of it to stress.
Stress can be a very, very bad thing.
But let’s go back……
Aside from the drama of the hospital stays, I remember feeling incredibly discouraged by my friend. I learned two things that day. 1) NEVER discourage someone like she discouraged me. 2) I have the right to choose to temporarily separate myself from people who wish only to discourage me. And that’s just what I did. In fact, I remember thinking to myself, “I love you, but you are wrong and I cannot listen to you right now.”
In the past 10 days or so, I’ve had a few repeats of that “you’re never gonna make it” experience. I allowed myself to entertain the possibility for a few minutes and thought, “well, if I don’t make it, I’ll have done so honestly, and I’ll have done so with another clean conscience.” But mostly I spent more time than I should have just being disappointed that anyone would wish failure on me. On anyone, really.
In the words of my granddaughter, who says it best, “That’s not very kind.”
I called two people I’m close with and asked them to be brutally honest with me. And then I remembered the example that had been set for me 25 years ago, the promise I’d made to myself to never discourage someone else and remembered that the best way to be encouraged is to encourage others…..
Sometimes, God puts people in our lives to provide good examples. Other times, He sends people to provide us with a really good example of a really bad example. Those people teach us how NOT to treat others.
Be thankful for both, choose wisely, listen to your encouragers, and remember always to be kind.
PS) I never went back, and if raising my sons honestly through a lot of hard work, very little sleep, many heartaches, and a lot of toilet scrubbing means I actually “made it,” well, then I guess I can lean back, laugh, and say, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” I made it!
PSS) You’re gonna make it too 😉
PSSS) I feel better. Hope you do too 😉
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10