Monday, January 30, 2012

The Anatomy of Discouragement

Last Monday, I shared how I almost quit writing novels. Sadness, frustration, and sheer weariness drove me to the edge of that cliff.

As I struggled to regain my footing, I knew something must have gone awry in my thought processes. What was the trigger that set discouragement in motion? Nothing monumental occurred in the previous weeks.

I prayed, shared with friends, but seemed to get worse instead of better. As I journaled, a pattern emerged. Somehow I'd slipped into a glass-half-empty mentality, as well as getting too self-focused.

Not long ago, I wrote a gratitude list. Reading it made me notice all the blessings God gave me during 2011. Maybe I didn't get an agent or a book contract, but I met an author, who helped me create a proposal and gave me valuable insights. Another author read my manuscript and urged me to keep writing. I found a job that I love, and my Mom's health improved. The list goes on, and a glimmer of light entered my soul.

Another factor provided fertile ground for the despair haunting me. I'd allowed myself to get rundown physically. The intense schedule surrounding the holidays whittled my gym visits down to 2 per week, we were eating more fast food, and I'd come down with a cold that didn't want to yield its grip. Even though I'd simplified my traditions and enjoyed a meaningful Christmas, physical rest eluded me.

Next week, I'll give you a glimpse into the dangers of discouragement.

What are the things that trigger an "I want to give up" feeling in you?


Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Thanks for sharing part of your journey with us Susan.
My trigger for discouragement? Reading someone else's work that is way, way better than mine. I know, that's pathetic ... but it makes me doubt about my qualities to write. Only prayer and confession of His promises help me out of such pity parties.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja -

I know how you feel. When I read these well-researched, well-written novels, I wonder if I can measure up to their high standards.

I've come to the conclusion that I have to trust God and do my best.

Susan :)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Aha. I'm so glad the Lord gave you insights into what set you on that slippery path to discouragement, and SO thankful you are out of it!

When the weather is dreary for days on end, or someome makes a tacky comment to me at church, I can easily become discouraged.

Karen Lange said...

In some ways, due to several different circumstances, I have been riding this wave for a few years. Shrugging it off has been an ongoing process, but I am getting there with God's help. I confess to be a work in progress. :) Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging us.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

When it feels like there isn't hope in something. That's when the rubber hits the road with my faith and I have to give it all I've got to fight against the pull-me-downs.
~ Wendy

Jean Fischer said...

I get discouraged when I have a long to-do list. When the tasks ahead seem daunting, then I don't want to do anything at all.

DenaNetherton said...

Susan, last year I shared with my women's group how, in a moment of great despair, the Lord called me to praise Him. Focusing on Him and His greatness, His power, His wonderful love, empowered me and healed me. There's an old song: "Praise the Lord; He can work through those who praise Him. Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits prayer. . . "Sounds like you did that in your discouragement. Praise the Lord!

Nancy said...

I get discouraged when a series of things don't work or let me down, especially if one of them involves my computer. Will I ever get the hang of that thing?

Your journey in insightful. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda Schrock said...

Often, it's when things seem quiet. When I can't see the signs outwardly that God is on the move. But this, I'm learning, is what faith is all about. My faith muscles are sore, Susan, but definitely getting stronger!

Keep pushing, my friend. Great things are on the way!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh I've been there. I've definitely been there. So glad you received encouragement just when you needed it, Susan.

Melanie N. Brasher said...

Thanks for sharing, Susan. I too find if I haven't had enough sleep I let me thoughts travel down a negative path. A word of encouragement and truth goes a long way for me.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen - Yes, winter weather also challenges my sense of well being. Also, when I'm giving something my all, it's discouraging to get negative comments.

Hi Karen - You've had some rough going since we met. Your courage and determination are always an inspiration.

Hi Wendy - Hope is essential to our faith. Thanks for pointing out that aspect of beating discouragement.

Hi Jean - Long to-do lists can be overwhelming. Yet, without them I'm in a muddle. I focus on one item at a time. I love crossing things off my list.

Hi Dena - I've always loved that song! One day, maybe you can do a vlog and sing it for us?

Hi Nancy - Oh yes, the computer woes caused a bunch of stress during that period. The Lord rescued me via my pastor, who set up the new computer and taught me how to connect everything when I got home.

Hi Rhonda - I've sometimes thought of that long period of silence before Jesus was born. He comes into our situations at the darkest times.

Hi Sarah - Life's challenges tempt us to give up, but it's worth hanging in there.

Hi Melanie - Sleep deprivation makes this girl one unhappy camper.

One of my friends wrote me an email that helped me hang onto my dream.

Susan :)

quietspirit said...

Thank you for sharing your points on the roots of discouragement.
If I don't feel well, I get discouraged. I just got a new bottle of vitamin D. Maybe that was what made me feel great until two weeks ago. Fibro is not for sissies.

Kristen said...

Thank you so much for being transparent with us, Susan.
What triggers the "I want to quit" feeling is focusing on how far away the end is, instead of focusing only on the next step that I'm to take. If I focus on only today it's not so overwhelming.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit - Hmm, maybe it has something to do with the "winter blues" they talk about. I get Vitamin D in my multi.

Hi Kristen - Yes, gotta eat that elephant one bite at a time. When I started out, I didn't know the elephant was the full-size variety.

Susan :)

Carla Gade said...

Sorry you've been having a time of discouragement. I'm glad to see that you are wise enough to get to the bottom of it and move forward. Praying for you, Susan!

I go through those phases, too. The adversary sometimes lures me to compare my writing to others, those favorite authors whose writing I adore. I become sure I will miss the mark. But my Savior reminds me to keep my eyes on Jesus, writing for an audience of One, and let be the One who directs my paths - not the way I am tempted to veer.

I'd appreciate your prayers too as this whole task of being recently published is rather daunting.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

Yes, comparison can be deadly and lead us down the path of discouragement.

Praying that God will give you wisdom and strength as you adjust to this new phase of writing.

Susan :)