Hope is not found in circumstances. It can be discovered in who God is. - Andy Stanley

I was going through my various points of memory and thinking about how I am impacted by various concerns and periods of life. Like a large sculpture or big bubble letters coming out of the darkness the word DISCOURAGEMENT glowed in the recesses of my mind. I relate discouragement or its forms to the thoughts concerning pain and sacrifice. Not a sacrifice of reward, but a sacrifice of hurt, wounding, or scarring. A memory that marks a moment. Taking on a form of physical, mental or emotional formation that remains like a Greek marble statue or Corinthian column. A sensation that suffering was experienced without knowing a purpose or reason for it to exist. I associate the times in my life of discouragement to be great chasms of grief or loss. I know that my belief about what I consider discouraging is unique to me. This is determined because expressing the concepts to others so that I could be known or felt by them seems to cheapen the expression due to lack of others connecting with my feeling. There is also the sensation of creating more of the cycle of discouragement that I am already believing is great or overwhelming. It's a common loop or crisis.

Listening to some of the marriage couples and their families I hear on occasion I observe the same cycles.

One says, "I love you," while the other thinks "If you really loved me..." in conditional loops.

A family creates rules of behavior indicating usually in their conception of the rules that there is a frequent rule breaker in the home creating a cacophony of sound that is unwanted. The group intends to quiet the disturbance. The group becomes discouraged when the rule breaker continues to exercise dysfunction. The scapegoat finds themselves needy and only distressed more. Anxious to please or angry at being controlled the noise just increases.

"I am trying to abide by what you want! I have done all of this and I am not succeeding! Help me understand how I cannot get rid of my hurt because you are determining my level of pain! I am doing everything to keep this family together. What good are you?" screams a wife.

Such a revelation to the husband who immediately listens to his inner strategy to be rational about keeping his ground. He then calculates that a war is about to happen or is occurring and someone is attempting a coup of leadership! His inner voice speaks. 

"What are we going to do about this? Get it together lady and get in line. I hear this from my employees all day. You really don't understand! I need you to be a solution maker and not a complainer adding to my pain. Don't you care and see that I work all day and come home to your incompetence?"

Should any of this seep out into the open, the wife is increasing her tactic to escalate, volcano like spewing, and create distance from the un-hearing, burden, and harsh critical judge standing in the middle of her lemon scented kitchen floor.

"GET OUT!", she screams.

Slam, bang, growl, squeal. A door, an engine coming to life, and tires expressing their distress from the force spinning them further from the point of pain.

Are these the results of discouragement? Maybe not on an average day. Maybe on an average day. I don't know. Poor some alcohol on it and watch it burn hotter.

Alcohol or any other substance is not known to create attachment. Recently I sat listening to conversations that were attaching and the tone and care were evident. Love was present because the persons willed their communication to create safe, sensible, creative interactions warding away caustic toxic talk. The difference between the two was an agreement to care for my personal well being and yours by abiding by the thought of controlling tone. I saw also a commitment to a process of finding face time without electronic devices, a set time, and an activity that was planned. It reduced the likelihood of discouragement barging in.

So what is it that reduces discouraged mom's and dad's to tears? Disconnection. Discouragement is the emotion of disconnection. Courage to change is energy placed forward. Pointed at the dark. Breaking through in form and support. Belief in the capacity of connection to reduce the dark.

Be light. Be courage. Be an overcomer. Pay attention to disconnection not to create distance. Rather, push through the tension to find hope, faith, and love.

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5


Be light. Believe. Belong.

In the finishing point I find Stanley's point above to represent an antidote to discouragement. Looking around me at others, my bank account, my messy house isn't the resource of energy I have to keep going. Lasting energy comes directly from God. If you find that discouraging, pray this. 

"JESUS! Help my unbelief!" 

A discouraged disconnected Father found his source and healed his son when he expressed this to a holy God. The story is found in The Gospel of Mark chapter 9. 

Be light. Believe. Belong.

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