Working Through Discouragement

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. (Romans 12:12)trauma and rehab

Since my year of trauma, surgery, and rehab, I’ve had long bouts of discouragement and just plain sadness.  I haven’t talked about it much–there’s nothing that clears out a room like a woe-is-me tale. Hearing them makes folks uncomfortable and sad too. But in the interests of helping friends who are going through their own dark times, I thought it was time that I shared some coping strategies that work for me–when I use them.

OK, the first thing I learned is that Jesus doesn’t mind my woe-is-me tale. What I can’t  or won’t  risk sharing with people, I can always share with God. I learned that really early in my life–I could go and sit with him, and listen or talk. It was all the same. Just being with Him, in His presence, worked and still works for me.

A good night’s sleep works too. I can’t count the number of times, I’ve sat on the end of my bed and said, “Lord, my thoughts are really ugly tonight. Please, deliver me from them, and help me wake up with a better attitude.” and sure enough, in the morning, the garbage in my own understandings has cleared and I’ve got a new insight on the issue. Personally, I have a lot of conversations like that.

When I first left home as a young woman, I was plagued by anxieties that made me want to be with people 24/7. Yeh, that’s right! There was a time when I was afraid to be alone. But a wise friend and I talked, and she suggested that the next time I was afraid, I should write down everything I was feeling. As soon as I put the feelings on paper, my anxiety disappeared.

Of course, other anxieties eventually took their place, which propelled me into a lifelong pre-occupation with journaling and a professional writing career.  go figure…

Pushing through the inertia works too–cleaning the house, making a list of tasks and doing at least one of them, walking, dancing, or just moving helps big time. Change your scenery, change your mood!

And for those situations you can’t change until the Lord rescues you, basic brainwashing-avoidance skills work best. There are two mind, body & soul strategies that work so well, troops are trained in them before they go into combat. They are:

  1. Solidarity–us against ‘them’–no breaking ranks, no collusion, no selling each other out–no matter what happens–stick together. It preserves you all!
  2. Deprecating Humor–aimed at  whoever or whatever  ‘them’ is–in war, it’s the enemy–in personal struggles, it’s the anxieties, the thoughts, the weaknesses, the feelings of worthlessness, failure, etc. Humor subverts the power of control. So  learn to laugh at your foible-ridden, anxiety-driven, bossy, OCD, control-freak self! It’ll help people like you better, and it will keep you honest! Go ahead, try it!

There is scriptural support for both strategies.

Solidarity:

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. (Ephesians 4:4-7)

Deprecating Humor:

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.  Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (Romans 12:6-10)

Don’t even try to tell me there are no deprecatingly humorous characterizations in THAT passage! ; )

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