Today discouragement came to visit...it turned out to be a pretty good day. The invitation was the smallest of things, just a breakdown in communication—but a breakdown again, despite effort, despite successes. Sometimes old habits still win out over newly honed, best efforts.
Then, like a waft of breeze, came the awareness: I am discouraged.
I can do that, I thought. It’s not depression, it’s not despair, it’s not failure, it’s just discouragement. I am not paranoid, unreasonable, or over reacting. There’s ample cause to feel this way.
"Thank you,” I said, lifting a prayer heavenward. For, once I knew who had come to call, it was no stranger and had no magical power over me. Just come to visit for a spell.
I nodded in recognition, "Pull up a chair,” I said and leveled my gaze. "I think I will contemplate you.”
"A long, loving look at what is real,”—that’s the definition of contemplation I’ve been using of late. I’m not so sure about the loving part. A lot of things that are very real are not particularly lovable, especially these days. But look, yes, I can do that. Long, yes--better for discouragement to stay right here where I can keep an eye it.
"I don’t want you visiting any of my kiddos,” I warned in my best grandmother voice. "You just stay right here with me.”
So, I looked Discouragement square in the eye for a moment. It stayed put and blinked back.
I could pull out the elixir of encouragement. Powerful stuff and mighty good, encouragement. But if you use it all the time, it dissipates, is not honest. And sometimes, "should” tags along for the ride.
Back to contemplating "what is real” before me...how to summon a way to love this unwelcome guest?
"Not sure I can love you,” I said. ‘You make me sad and tired and make me think it’s my fault.”
"But it is your fault,” said Discouragement.
"Some things are,” I agreed.” but some things are not—not all the
time, not everything, not the long list of stuff you throw at me. Some
things just are. Like you, you little bother.”
"The truth is always a bother” smirked Discouragement.
the truth can be quite inconvenient,” I sighed. "But that just has to
do with how she arrives. Sometimes she blind-sides you and you can feel
gob smacked. Sometimes she creeps up on cat’s paws and becomes a
companion before you realize it. But once she’s arrived, life is always
"Half-truths on the other hand,” I added, "the kind you
use… That means they are still, at best, half lies. Life is too short
for any kind of lies.”
Discouragement squirmed a bit in the chair. "What, you don’t think I do any good at all?” it pouted.
"Hmm. Let me contemplate that,” I said.
"I get your attention. I cause you to stop. Hey, there are things that need attention. There are times you need to stop.”
"Fair enough,” I agreed and contemplated a bit more.
"Did you know,” I said, "that in England they call speed bumps ‘sleeping policemen’?”
"What are you saying?” Discouragement was looking a little
uneasy. "Are you comparing me to a speed bump?” "If the shoes fits…”
I hinted broadly. "Besides, that does acknowledge that you serve a
purpose. Like you said, you slow me down and get my attention. You
should feel good about that."
"In fact,” I added, "you caused me to pray.”
Discouragement grimaced. "That was not my intention.”
"Bet it happens though, doesn’t it? I mean, I bet people pray all the time when they are discouraged.”
is NOT my intention,” said Discouragement all the louder. "I can’t have
people praying. That’s when encouragement shows up—the real kind, not
the hollow kind. And the two of us—we don’t get along.
"Can I leave now?” Discouragement said with a whine.
"Not if you go visit my kiddos, you can't" I shot my most reproving grandmother glance.
Discouragement knew I meant it.
"I’m not going anywhere else today. I have a headache. I’m taking the day off.”.
"Good-bye,” I said. I hadn’t expected hanging out with discouragement to be quite so rewarding.