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When you are discouraged with who you are

I like to start out most entries with a funny little anecdote, usually about my children.  They make me laugh with their ridiculousness and I like to bring a smile to anyone reading by sharing.  But if I’m being really honest right now, I don’t feel much like laughing these days.  I’m more stressed than I’ll admit to myself, but maybe I’ll admit it to you.

I write about changing seasons a lot.  I mean, it’s a thing that happens frequently so it comes up quite a bit!  Sometimes the season has changed to one that was unexpected or full of problems.  But the season change I’m in is one that I have chosen, it’s supposed to be a good thing!  And it is a good thing—so good and such a blessing.  However…I’ve been feeling so down for weeks and it’s taken me quite a while to realize why (I’m a bit slow when it comes to processing emotions).

I see the amazing opportunities I’m presented with because I’m home with the kids now.  I see the amazing potential for what our time could be like.  I see the amazing blessings and fun.  I got what I wanted, and of course it’s not perfect but it truly feels like the right thing for our family.  So why am I so discouraged, frustrated, and sad?  It defies logic and has been confusing me until I realized that my season had changed for the better, but I am still the same person I was in the previous season.

When it first occurred to me that I was upset at who I am I got a little snippy with God.  Thank you for this opportunity, but why didn’t you change me too?  Of course it sounds silly to question God about why I didn’t just wake up one day as a new person, but it was an unasked question—just an ache in my heart that hadn’t been put into words yet.  An almost mournful disappointment that I am not more capable to handle my new season.

Reminds me of a classic joke that I’ll retell in my own words:  A doctor goes to check on his patient who just had surgery on his hands.  The patient asks, “Doctor, when these bandages come off will I be able to play the piano?”  The Doctor replies, “Absolutely!”, to which the patient happily says “Excellent!  I didn’t know how to play before.”

It’s silly but it’s like I had this unconscious expectation that if I had asked God, “God, after I leave my job and stay home with the kids will I suddenly be super organized, be in an exercise routine, get up early every day, be a great teacher, and find the time to start a business?”  God should say “Sure!” and I’d say “Awesome, because I’m terrible at all that right now.”

But if I had actually asked that question and God had actually answered, He probably would have had one of those good laughs like we have when our children ask us a question that they are very serious about, but from our adult perspective is absolutely hilarious.

As foolish and funny it is on the surface, this disappointment I have in myself really hurts and is really heavy.  But at least recognizing it and calling it out is a good first step towards moving forward.  Shining light onto the dark places of our hearts is pretty much a victory in itself.   I can’t stop with just recognizing it, however, there’s work to be done!  And if there’s one thing I know how to do in this world it’s work.  I may be frustrated with some of my inabilities or weaknesses, but I can trust that even though I may be weak, the Lord is certainly strong enough to help me accomplish what He has called me to do.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians asked God to take away a thorn in his flesh—a weakness of some sort.  Paul says “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

I don’t have it all figured out—far from it.  However, I’m working on letting go of this self-discouragement I’ve been holding onto.  Can you relate?  Maybe you don’t feel good enough for what you are supposed to be doing.  Maybe you feel like your weaknesses are just too great to overcome so you’ve stopped trying.  Maybe you are so overwhelmed in each moment that you have forgotten to look outside of yourself and see the big picture.  But whatever your “maybe” is, there is a steadfast God who does not change with our season changes.  He remains the same loving God throughout.

There’s a saying: “fake it ‘til you make it”.  There’s definitely some truth behind that idea.  Sometimes I find that I need to start moving forward verbally or in prayer, even if I don’t feel ready.  I can declare or pray certain things over myself or my situation and as I hear the truth, then it starts to feel like the truth.

Knowing and feeling are often very different and sometimes conflicting.  I’m usually a “knowing dictates my feelings” kind of person, however, my postpartum hormones are still driving me a bit crazy.  I’m feeling my feelings more than I’d like, which is fine, as long as I keep reminding my feelings of the truths I believe.  Fortunately, there are many things that we can pray to refocus ourselves and keep a steady perspective:

Thank you, Lord, for my weaknesses which keep me humble and which remind me to lean on your strength and not try to do everything myself.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me passion for my purpose.  If I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t get so discouraged.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me your Word as a light for my path.

Lord, please help me to give myself grace as freely as you give it.

Lord, please help me to see myself as your creation and not a disappointment.

Lord, please help me to rest in your timing and not be in such a hurry.

Lord, please show me how to focus on one step at a time so I move forward in your plans for me instead of being too overwhelmed to walk.

Lord, please help me to surrender my expectations of what things should be looking like and trust that you have everything under control.

We love you, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

 

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