I made the commitment to wake up at 5am to create the white space to dive deeper into prayer, scripture study, journaling and working on what I believe to be God's call for my life, which is to encourage women. I've been going strong for a month and a week! I'm so encouraged by this new habit that I even issued a challenge to friends to try waking up at this golden hour as a gift to themselves.
Then it happened...this week, I felt an old familiar nemesis creep in...discouragement. Suddenly, the passion I felt to pursue the project that I've been so excited to put out into the world, started to dwindle. Procrastination set in, and then the reel started playing, it sounded like this...
-Why am I wasting my time creating a webinar that a thousand other people probably have done ?
- No one is going to register, and all this work will be for nothing
-Do people really care about what I have to say?
There's more, but you get the gist of how stinking thinking started sinking in, and soon after a cloud of discouragement hovered over my head and heart. Unfortunately, the cloud of discouragement has probably rained on your parade before. One day your skipping along, feeling good and in alignment, and then boom the cloud storm breaks and you're sitting in a puddle of doubt. Ladies, I wasn't just under a sprinkle of rain I was in a monsoon. So if you're caught in that storm right now, this post is for you. Let's break down this cloud of discouragement, so you can start to feel the rays of God's encouragement again!
Let's look at:
The definition of discouragement
Where it originates
What discouragement looks like
What's the damage
How it is defeated
The Definition of Discouragement
Discouragement is defined as a loss of confidence, or enthusiasm; or dispiritedness.
I want you to pay close attention to the word, dispiritedness. As daughters of the King our confidence comes through Christ! Through him we are fully equipped, not lacking any spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 1:7). When we are discouraged we experience a loss in confidence, motivation, but more importantly we become dispirited. We stop relying on the spirit of God and instead are taken hostage by feelings of loss, and inadequacy. Our spirit is interrupted, which hinders us in pursuing the works God has ordained for us. Which brings us to the other definition.
Discouragement is an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or creating difficulties.
When discouragement weasels its way into our spirit, it creates mind, heart and spirit blocks. The goal of the enemy through the darts of discouragement is to prevent you from acting in spirit and using your spiritual gifts. Which brings us to where discouragement originates.
Where Does Discouragement Originate?
As you may have guessed, discouragement is not from the Lord it is straight from the enemy. Every good thing comes from God. We are told in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." God's plan for us is the antithesis of discouragement. We need to understand in no uncertain terms that God's plans for us is in direct opposition to the enemy's plan. The enemy is a thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy and one of the most effective weapons is through the seeds of discouragement. The king (note I used a lower case k) of darkness is constantly and consistently trying to snuff out the light of God, that shines inside of you. It is part of your inheritance as a child of Christ. God is the originator of all that can prosper us and the enemy is the originator of all that is meant too harm us.
What Does Discouragement Look Like
In order to defeat an enemy of the spirit, we need to know how to recognize it, through it's many disguises. For me, discouragement comes in the form of procrastination. I always viewed procrastination as a personal flaw. But under closer observation and prayer, I discovered that my issue with procrastination is a direct result of discouragement, a dispiritedness, that came from the enemy under the mask of a human flaw. In actuality procrastination is a spiritual assault that came in the form of discouragement. I don't know what discouragement looks like for you personally, but here are a few common triggers and feelings:
Lack of Confidence
Feeling like you are not good enough, talented enough, smart, all the "Not enoughs"
What you have to offer isn't sufficient
These triggers of discouragement are from the enemy and not one represents who you are in Christ! Learn how to discern between the truth and the triggers. This is why understanding God's word is so vital. The more spiritual knowledge you gain the better you can discern the truth from a lie. Once those triggers appear you can begin to address them with the truth of who God says you are and not who the enemy wants you to believe you are.
What is the Damage of Discouragement?
Discouragement at its root is a spirit from the enemy. Discouragement can evolve into sin, if it stops you from obeying God's will for your life and trusting in His promises. Discouragement prevents us from serving, because it begs us to internalize that we are not enough, that nothing we have is worthy to offer, and that we are inadequate to pursue the big plans God has for us. The goal of the enemy is to render us useless and to stop us from using our spiritual gifts to glorify God! Discouragement aims to bury all those ideas and amazing passions that God puts on your heart and has equipped you to do!
The damage can be long lasting and far reaching, because it indirectly affects your opportunity to create spiritual connections. When you stop doing what God calls you to do, you stop being a building block, you become a stumbling to yourself and others because you are not following his plan, and not uplifting and building up others on his foundation.
How Do We Defeat Discouragement?
Discouragement tries to kill the spirit, but we can proclaim victory because Christ defeated the enemy! When we are feeling discouraged, we need to handle it as a spiritual problem and give it to God. We can surrender to Him, and bask in the truth of our identity and abilities and not to the lies of the enemy. We are given a spirit of power, that is more powerful than what we temporarily feel because of the truth of who we are in Christ. So, the first step is to turn to God, and ask Him to restore in you a spirit of encouragement. I do this daily to keep the storm of discouragement at bay.
The other way to defeat discouragement is through fellowship with one another. When you are in the throes of discouragement, reach out to those you trust and are invested in you to share a spirit of encouragement with you. It's okay to ask! Don't let pride stop you! Call that friend, or sister in Christ, and ask them to pray with you and for you! Don't be shy to ask for encouragement!
Now, if you really want to be encouraged, be an encourager. Ladies, have each other's back. Be one who encourages! Be a building block, be a woman who plants seeds of encouragement, be intentional and take the opportunity to reach out in love and fellowship. Create a circle of encouragement around one another that is so impenetrable that when the darts of discouragement try to invade in your spirit with its nonsense, they bounce right back to the enemy! When we encourage we become encouraged because we are serving through the strength of Christ.
This past week, I prayed to God to remove the spirit of discouragement burrowing in my heart and mind. As usual, He showed up in the sweetest ways. I received unexpected email messages about how I was an encouragement to single moms, and to keep doing what I was doing. My spirit was lifted in ways I can't even articulate.
I pray that if you are discouraged and you realize who you are in Christ, and that your identity and purpose are secure. I hope you know with every fiber of your being that you are fully equipped and loved by your Creator who desires nothing more than for you to be encouraged in hope and in truth.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing."