Pursuing Encouragement

runnerDiscouragement, like people, comes in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of the shape or the size or the person, discouragement stinks. Deflated. Struggle without progress. Stuck. Directionless. Yep, stinks.

My discouragement with running really epitomizes my battle with discouragement in general. Sure, I’ve experienced periods of relative success. But overall, running exists as simply a 20-year struggle. One might ask, “Why keep doing it?” Well… I guess because it helps me stare discouragement in the face and tell it, “I refuse to quit. I refuse to let you stop me.” If I quit running altogether, that opens the door for me to give up in other areas… in writing, in relationships, in faith. In the midst of discouragement, I often don’t know what to do, but I definitely know what not to do… quit.

While my own discouragement leaves me lethargic and frustrated, my inner locus of control keeps me moving even in the absence of any perceptible progress. However, seeing those I love — my boys and my husband especially — in seasons of discouragement creates a whole new level of struggle and even gets me to believe the possibility of defeat. If I felt knee deep in miry clay before, I feel like I’m laying down in it now and letting the mud seep into my orifices.

When the ones who usually encourage you lack their own courage, and when the ones who you usually encourage can’t or don’t receive it, and when all of this happens simultaneously, life just feels frozen. Yet we continue about our days, continue on the treadmill of life, waiting for that moment when we see the upward path again and can jump off into progress.

If I’m not careful, debilitating loneliness creeps in when I’m discouraged. And if that isn’t held in check, depression usually comes next. I’ve experienced this process one too many times in my life, and I’m determined to not experience it again. Ever. And I don’t want my family to live in discouragement one moment longer than necessary either because I know all to well what comes if it lingers.

BeBold-Verse

Perhaps this battle with discouragement exists as an all-too-familiar place for you too. Perhaps you want to admit defeat and quit running, especially when the end seems hidden somewhere in the unknown depths of the mud. While I don’t know when this season will end for any of us, I do know where to go for encouragement within the struggle.

  1. Studying Scripture
  2. Pursuing the Holy Spirit
  3. Spending time in fellowship
  4. Allowing ourselves to be encouraged 

In our pursuit of encouragement, we must realize that truth often comes long before we believe what it’s saying — before the feelings take hold. Knowing this, I see discouragement as a struggle awaiting victory, and I believe encouragement happens in the midst of — not after — discouragement. What I also know is that the path to being encouraged, to becoming unstuck, lies right on top of the path of discouragement. In other words, struggling through discouragement is the only way I’ll find true and lasting encouragement. With that, giving up simply isn’t an option.

DISCUSSION: What testimony can you give regarding discouragement, struggle, encouragement and victory?

 

6 thoughts on “Pursuing Encouragement

  1. Okay Kari. Were you looking over my shoulder this morning as I journaled? Very very seldom do I allow discouragement to get to me. Today is different and wrote about it. I won' t stay that way…not for long. I'll get working and will come out of it, but at 6:00 this morning it was so tangible I could taste it. Looking forward to the series.

  2. First let me say that you are sharing my rock solid Bible verse that I clung to for years now. Oh, I can get discouraged so easily, and with it comes grumbling and complaining and self-pity that pulls me down in a hurry. I am grateful for my dear husband who makes me laugh often. I am grateful for a couple of dear friends who let me vent and then give me a hug. I am grateful for God's love and grace and the Word. Those are the weapons I use against discouragement. I know that the last in my list MUST come first in my life, because that ONE never changes and never will. Indeed as we mature we can learn to recognize when things are starting downhill and put on the brakes with God's help. Hug!

  3. Discouragement is a struggle awaiting victory…. Very nicely said. I try to be one who encourages but I wonder then who encourages the encourager? I do believe at times when I am in the midst of discouragement if I act to encourage someone else that leads to me being encouraged. Knowing I help someone else's day is always a source of building up.
    I do think it is easy to get discouraged when you are doing something such as running or the day to day mundane things. I work to know that if I have chosen things that are good then regardless how I feel about doing them then I should push on through. Doing that often in itself becomes an encouragement when I do that which I don't want to do but know it is good to do.
    Often the hardest thing to do is to start something to overcome the feeling of discouragement; to move on in spite of it. I want to be one that makes choices not on how I am feeling but what I believe I should do. I want to be one who is not looking to be encouraged but one who encourages.
    I thank God for the things in our lives and the relationships we have that offer us great encouragement.

    • SO much good stuff in your comment, Mark. First, the idea of the encourager needing encouraging. Perhaps we all need to be on the look out for who we can encourage and in doing so will encourage those who usually are the encouragers. Second, helping others is definitely encouraging. It's honestly more difficult in a world where people resist being helped more and more. They want to complain, but so often don't really want to be helped. Being helped requires work on their part. Yet, we keep encouraging because it's God's will (that's another post). Third, encouraging because we know it's what we're supposed to do rather than it being how we feel. Yep. That's the battle. Last, being thankful. You really said it all. I felt the need to repeat it because, well, I find it encouraging. Thanks, friend!

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