The Obstacle in Your Path: A Look at Discouragement (and How to Beat it!)
“Clarence, a man down on earth needs our help.”
“Splendid! Is he sick?”
“No. Worse. He’s discouraged.”
That bit of dialogue comes from one of my favorite movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But sometimes, life doesn’t feel all that wonderful does it? I’ve been in a crazy funk the past few weeks. Maybe you can relate. I spent a few weeks simply going through the motions of my life. I made breakfast, folded the laundry, read stories, and helped build train tracks. I did all of the things I was supposed to do. I put a smile on my face around other people, and carried on as usual. But inside, I felt numb. I was stuck.
I was discouraged. Because I’m a nerd, I looked discouragement up in the dictionary.
Discouragement: depression, dejection, hopelessness.deterrent, damper, impediment, obstacle, obstruction.
The word that really stuck out to me in the definition was OBSTACLE.
Our discouragement is an obstacle. It literally blocks our path. It gets in our way. It prevents us from moving forward.
Let’s think about obstacles for a minute.
In a storm, trees and limbs may fall, blocking our path. While the branches and fallen trees will not permanently block our path, they leave us two options:
Move them, or find a different path.
Then, there are the times when the “limb” is just too big to move alone. We need help. We need to admit that our strength is not enough. There are some things we just can’t do on our own. It can be humbling, difficult, and WAY out of our comfort zone to ask for (or admit) we need help. But the choice is pretty simple. Ask for help, or get comfortable being stuck…..right where you are.
Other times, the only thing we can do is wait. Consider a traffic jam. When the freeway is gridlocked, there is nothing you can do but wait until the way is clear. It isn’t fun. It’s frustrating. No one likes to wait. We have places to go and things to do. Periods of waiting are inevitable and often unforeseeable. But sometimes time is the only thing that can clear the obstacle in our path.
I wanted to share a few verses that have helped me during times of discouragement.
Psalm 27: 13-14 “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”
and one of my anchor verses….
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18–“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
I’m not sure what you’re up against today. What I do know is that if you’ve been feeling discouraged, it’s likely that something is keeping you from moving forward. It might be a relationship, a stressful project, or an illness. More often than not however, the obstacle in our path is man-made….self-made. Discouragement often stems from fear, anxiety, or an unhealthy shift in attitude. We are so often the source of our own discouragement.
I want to encourage you today to find a way to remove the obstacle in your path. Maybe you find yourself in a situation where time will heal your wounds. You might need to endure this period of waiting. The holding pattern can be hostile and frustrating, but stay the course and wait for the light at the end of the tunnel to appear. It may not come when you expect it to, or in the form you are expecting, but it will come. Be patient. Be still. Wait.
You may need to humble yourself and ask for help. If you’re anything like me, you may not like asking for help. You may hate it. Rally against it. Do it anyways. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or incapable. Sometimes we need the strength of others to keep going. Allow someone to help you move the obstacle out of your path for you or with you. No man is an island.
You might have some crazy hard-work in your future. It might be time to roll up your sleeves and work to find a solution, an answer, or the willpower to keep going. You might be up against some serious mental or emotional work. You may need to re-wire your brain to think about something in a new way. You might need to ditch an old habit. You might need to find some gumption or change your perspective. It won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But keep working at it….whatever it is.
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we’re forced to find a new path. You may have tried and exhausted every option trying to make the path you were walking work. Now it might be time to find a new way. Change is scary, but often exactly what we need. I’ve been there, and have walked paths I never would have chosen, and have come out smiling on the other side. Dare to choose another path. The harder path. The path you never saw coming.
You can do this. I have walked this road, and am walking along side of you. Don’t let your discouragement overtake you or get the better of you. Beat it. Move it. Find another way.
*Featured image courtesy of www.marygorham.com