The sun peeked through the clouds at 6:45 today. It’s a cold winter morning. Everything around me is quiet, and neither the hot cup of coffee in my hand nor the promise of a new day can lift my spirits. I was deeply discouraged and feeling hopeless.
There are days when the oil in my lamp seems low, my energy is depleted and everything I do looks pointless all of the sudden. The thought of never really arriving lost its thrill while the desire to finally reach a destination had never been more pressing than ever.
Have you, at one point in time, felt like giving up on yourself? You realize you’ve been repeating the same mistakes, clutching on to old bad habits, and found you’ve never really figured out things yet, in your finances, relationships, projects, job, or wherever it is you’re heading.
Discouragement rots your heart like a bad apple.
A priest once told a story about him being ridiculed for his faith. But he stood firm and courageously expressed, “I’d rather live my life believing there is God even if it would turn out to be not true. At least I have lived with joy and hope. Living would be pointless if there’s nothing to hope for or look forward to.”
Losing hope dims our future. But how does one find hope when his heart is heavily discouraged?
We might not get it right every time. Yet, we have to remind ourselves and believe that we are not crappy people. Sometimes it does feel like we’re not inching forward. Why? It’s because we tend to focus more on how far we have to go rather than look at how far we’ve come.
Success or victory doesn’t happen overnight and we know this. Nevertheless, we beat ourselves up when deadlines are missed, or things didn’t work out the way we planned.
We need to allow our hearts to trust again. To trust ourselves, trust the process, and the goodness in and around us.
Believe there is a lot of kindness in the world. We just fail to recognize them in small things. The smile from a stranger, the unexpected phone call, the simple thank you, or that free bread from a neighbor, they all count. The warmth of the sunlight on your skin on a breezy morning is kindness from the universe too. Humanity and the universe have our back. We just need to give faith and trust a chance.
The steps that we take need not be grand. Magnitude and Intensity can never be sustained in the long run. Taking actions on this level is oftentimes scary and overwhelming.
In recent years, I have seen the power of starting small and doing it consistently, in my own life. Talk about the 1% rule: improving yourself just 1% each day. When you look at improvement in small bites on whatever it is you’re working on, it doesn’t look daunting at all. You can even translate it in terms of time. We get 1440 minutes a day, and 1% is roughly 15 minutes. You can carve out 15 minutes each day doing that one thing that will move you forward to wherever it is that you want to be.
Grace flows when we stand in humility. Surrendering to the powers above us just gives us more strength than what we can muster on our own. Whether we feel it or not, remember it or not, some things are just beyond our control. So yes we do things and do them faithfully but let’s open our hearts too for some possible redirection.
I have heard it once, “When you pray, ask God everything that you need and want, but trust that if He doesn’t give exactly what you asked for, He’s giving you something better.” And that has been my prayer ever since. Why? I believe and I trust that He knows better.
Discouragement melted away.
I know not for a long time. It will still visit me in the future like an old friend. I’m beginning to appreciate going through discouragement because it reminds me of one thing, that I can’t trust my feelings to drive my way through life. What shapes my journey is each decision and action I take, and I believe that goes for you too.