Do you remember standing outside on a cold wintry morning with no coat in elementary school? I remember the sound of the fire alarms ringing in the background and the teachers scrambling to count and organize their classrooms in quiet straight lines. In my childlike mind, the fire drills caused a whole lot of hoopla for nothing. There was no real fire. Ever.
What I didn’t grasp was that if there was a real fire, all the seemingly meaningless planning and practicing would potentially save lives. It isn’t time to make a plan when disaster strikes.
As an adult, I’ve found a little planning saves me angst down the road. This doesn’t just hold true for grocery lists and to-do lists but for personal growth as well.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
One area in my life having a plan has resulted victory is discouragement. Without a plan, I default to a fetal position in my bed with covers over my head. I think solitude and chocolate make me feel better. But instead, being alone with my negative thoughts opens the door is wide open for the enemy t0 come behind the lines. He whispers lies. You know the ones I’m talking about. “You are a failure.” “You will never be good enough.” “Why do you keep trying?” “It’s not worth it.” “You can’t do it.”
Five steps to fight discouragement
- Get out of bed. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Pull weeds. It doesn’t matter what you do, the key is to do something productive.
- Write your thoughts out on a piece of paper exactly like they are running in your head.
- Examine your thoughts. Do they line up with what the Bible says God is and who the Bible says I am?
- Remember that God is Good. Perspective is driven by what you believe. Do you believe God is good or do you just desperately want relief from the pain you are experiencing?Are you willing to stand firm and persevere all the way through, no matter what, because you are confident God is good and is working this for good?
- Cling to God’s Promises. Are you willing to stay in the ocean when you don’t have a floaty and you can’t touch the bottom and the waves relentless? Because it seems that there, in that moment is the place where faith is birthed.Hebrews 11:1 describes faith, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith doesn’t change you until you jump in the water and swim past your comfort level, past having any plan or power to get to the other side on your own. It’s believing God’s promises are true – period, even when everything in the seen world around you declares disaster is eminent. God is outside this world – he can see what we can’t.
Lou Holtz said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” That means most of life is happening in our heads. When discouragement comes knocking I don’t want to allow my emotions to direct me and give into fear. I don’t want to get stuck in uncertainty and doubt. I’m glad those older and wiser than me had a plan for disaster at my elementary school. I also want to have a plan when disaster threatens me – a plan of hope.
“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalms 100:5
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” Psalm 18:30 NLT
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalms 91:4