Sometimes when I get discouraged, it’s because I don’t see how I’m making any difference. I don’t see my encouraging words, acts of kindness, and expressions of love affecting anyone in any way. In my darkest moments of discouragement, I’m believing what I do doesn’t matter and letting that thought dig a muddy trench in which I spin my mental wheels.
I’m not just staying still, of course, as my wheels spin. I’m sinking deeper. A catastrophizing mindset keeps me from seeing joy and hope. This is how pits of depression are dug; they begin with ruts created by spinning wheels.
What I was a kid, my dad used to put chains on our vehicle’s tires to keep it from getting stuck in the mud and snow. In inclement weather, he liked to drive around and find people who were stuck and pull them out. I’ve learned that I need chains on my spiritual tires if I am to keep from getting stuck when I attempt to help others get unstuck.
God’s word. Godly people. Prayer. Worship. All links in the spiritual chains that keep me from getting stuck in the mud.
I can’t wait until bad weather to put them on, either. They need to stay on continually because the deception of the evil one and the lure of this world often make muddy ground appear stable and firm until it’s too late, and I’ve sunk in and gotten stuck.
Love and Obedience
Keeping my spiritual chains on helps me stay focused on my reasons for trying to encourage and support others: Love and obedience.
Whether or not I see any difference because of my attitudes, actions, and words doesn’t matter. My perception of those things is too easily skewed anyway. The questions I’ve learned to ask myself are, “Am I doing this in love,l? Am I being obedient?” In other words, “Am I saying what God wants me to say, doing what he wants me to do, and reaching out how he wants me to reach out?” If I am, that’s what matters.
“Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
As I think about What I Can and Can’t Control, I must constantly re-remember that I can’t control others, but I can control my own obedience. If I am doing what God wants and I’m doing it in love, that is enough. Faith then takes over as I trust him to nourish and grow that which was planted.