“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God . . .” Psalm 42:5
Lately I’ve been wondering about discouragement. Although I realize that discouragement is part of life and nothing to worry about, I wonder if it stems from unresolved issues or happens when we place too much expectation on our own ability to accomplish something. Maybe we have expectations of ourselves that are just too high.
My husband and I spent a week in Iowa with my family, and it was a good week. We both needed the break, but more than that, we looked forward to and enjoyed spending time with my family. However, upon returning, we both feel discouraged. For him, it is a series of events that have happened at his work with his immediate supervisor leaving to go to another company, as well as the promise that he would move into a different area of the company that has better pay and is more to his liking, using his sales gifts more fully. The promise has been offered for three and a half years, and he is just now seeing a move toward training. Sometimes he thinks that they are doing the training just to keep him from leaving to go somewhere else, and it’s easy to see why – he is very good at sales! As much as he really doesn’t want to change companies, with the departure of his immediate supervisor, he’s thinking about it more seriously; however, (he has more patience than I do!) he is going to wait to see what the next few weeks bring.
I, on the other hand, went back to my work with the same old frustrations about lack of involvement, attendance that is low in the summer months, and occasional bickering that can happen in any institution. There are people there who just don’t like each other, and they don’t get along. Things may calm down for a while, and then they kick up again. Just when I think we can finally move ahead, something else comes up. I’m not quite sure what to think about it, but I’m not taking it personally since the issues don’t involve me directly. Overall, things get resolved, but I find that lack of healthy communication will slow down everything and pull us inward, away from the mission and ministry of the church.
On my first Sunday back from vacation, both churches welcomed us with great enthusiasm and people said how happy they were to have us back and how much they had missed us. That was great, and I am happy that we are appreciated so much. I just wish I could get a handle on some of the ways we can improve conditions in one church and help the other church to find a little more energy. Both churches have quite a few people involved in various things, but new thing I have tried seems to be falling flat. I really thought that the inspiration to do those activities was an idea guided by the Spirit, but obviously, no one else caught the Spirit!
As the passage above reminds me, I don’t do these things on my own. My strength has to come from God or I’m alone on all these adventures. The discouragement doesn’t help. So, I am trying to stay upbeat and positive, even though there are many times my energy fades quickly, my fatigue sets in, my discouragement drags me down. Fortunately, there are many times when I’m reminded that there are great people out there who are really interested in growing spiritually, not pushing their own agendas, and willing to work cooperatively with others. I pray that I can continue to be open to hearing God’s guidance and finding ways to help them grow and “catch the Spirit.”