Last week we talked about joy and finding ways to intentionally add it to our day. Today we are going to talk about encouragement. We all go through seasons where joy is easy to feel and seasons where joy is harder to feel. Our feelings can trip us up if we let them.
So, what do you do when you are down? Here are some of the things that we normally want to do when we’re discouraged that aren’t healthy or good for us:
- Gossip and complain– We want other people to see how bad we’ve got it and tell us it’s ok to stay grumpy.
- Post– This is a big “no-no!” When we are feeling down or mad, it’s not the time to post. Repeat this after me: “Walk away from the phone!”
- Eat ALL THE THINGS– Anyone else or is this just me?! Me and chocolate get waaayy too acquainted when things aren’t going my way!
- Eat NONE OF THE THINGS– Some people just don’t eat at all when they are struggling.
- Make bizarre choices– This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes if we are pushed to our limits, we make weird choices that we would never make otherwise.
- Run– Some of us just don’t want to face hard feelings so we run from them and to alcohol, men, different locations, hobbies, etc.
- Self-Harm – Many have such a hard time that they try to release their pain through harming their own bodies.
Obviously, God doesn’t want us to live this way. When we are discouraged, these broken systems will not be effective in getting our spirits up. They just perpetuate our struggle. So, what is the right response to being down?
- Seek God. God is often the last person we take our discouragement to. We assume that we should know better and that God would be upset with us for allowing ourselves to be discouraged. God should always be the first person we talk to about our discouragement. He is the One who can truly speak life into our situation.
“Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him,” (1 Chronicles 16:11 NLT).
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance,” (Psalm 32:7 NIV).
“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out,” (Psalm 55:22 MSG).
- Take inventory of your thoughts. My youth pastor used to say, “What goes in is what comes out.” If you are watching, listening to and stewing on stuff that is dark and heavy, chances are, your thoughts will be dark and heavy. I often don’t realize that my thoughts have gotten unhealthy, until I sit down and start to intentionally process where my thoughts are. What am I believing about myself, others and God?
“As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” – Dr. Caroline Leaf
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect,” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
- Get with encouraging friends. You need people. When we are discouraged, the first thing the enemy does is isolate us and tells us no one will understand what we are going through.
When a predator is hunting down its prey, it looks for animals that are alone or it finds a way to separate one from the pack. It’s much easier to kill something when it is alone than when it is part of a group. Go to God first and understand that He is your source, but then go to a few trusted people and share what’s going on. Let them pray with you, speak life over you and encourage you.
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG).
“When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there,” (Matthew 18:20 MSG).
“So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy,” (Philippians 2:2 TPT).
If you are discouraged today, let me know and I will be glad to pray for you. We all get discouraged from time to time. To encourage means to fill with courage. And I want to fill you with courage right now:
You are beautiful, smart and, with Jesus, you can handle any task that is ahead of you. You have made it this far and will make it to the end. You were made for this. You are a good friend and deserve healthy, strong relationships. Your voice is important. You make the atmosphere better when you walk into a room. You are helpful, patient and kind. You were made to shine. You trust that you don’t have to make a way for yourself. You let God open doors for you and celebrate others when they do well. You are so loved by God.
If you need some practical steps to move into joy, read my last post and follow my Instagram account @choosingtrust. Every day this week I have posted a 10-minute challenge that is intentional about chasing joy.
Let’s Choose to Trust that God is taking care of us and walk in the courage He gives.