Those Dreadful Ds ~ Discouragement
Our second D is discouragement. You find yourself here as the natural progression of disappointment. Too many, too fast, too big. If you have not read the post about disappointment, do it now. This will make more sense.
Discouragement is a feeling of sadness that comes over you. Like a blanket. Like thick dark cloud cover. You feel like people have used you as a football and no one really cares. You start to think, 'why bother?'. You are dismayed. That means you are bummed. Some might say you are in a bad mood. Ya think? Lol!
The Bible says of it: "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (~Joshua 1:9) 1 Peter 5:7 gives us this reminder: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
Discouragement is a slippery slope. You ARE going to be here sometimes, but you want to get through it and back to your bright, happy self as soon as possible. If you don't have a bright, happy self to go back to, we'll work on that another day. Just try to get back to normal and we'll go from there. :)
You want to get through it and not play around because discouragement is a slippery slope. It doesn't mess around. It will take you very quickly where you do not want to go.
I used to go with the seniors each year to The Wilds for their senior trip. Seniors as in happy-to-be-finishing-school-and-starting-my-life, not seniors as in everything-hurts-and-I-can't-wait-for-my-new-body. Graduating seniors. If they only knew how quickly you go from one to the other they would be terrified.
The Wilds has a great program that is a mixture of awesome outdoor activities and fabulous, challenging preaching. Preaching that allows God one more chance at convicting a teen's heart as to how he or she will spend their greatest commodity---their life. Good stuff. The activities are first rate, once in a lifetime, sporty kind of things. Like white water rafting and zip lining between mountains, and cool stuff like that.
Now, if you don't know me personally, let me tell you a little about myself. I am not an athlete. Period. Like, if someone tries to talk me in to playing right field in a pick-up game of softball by assuring me that the ball never gets hit out there and they just need a warm body in that position, I will have an urgent need to go to the bathroom and not come out until the game is underway. They will give up after a while and put a seven year old out there, and they will be so much better off.
It's not that I don't try. I do! If it weren't for the fact that they have to give you a B for giving it everything you've got in high school PE, I never would have made the honor roll. They allow you that B in a minor subject. Phew! But I can tell you that if I get snookered into that softball game, that the ball WILL come out to right field, and I WILL hold up my glove and squint just like you are supposed to, and the ball WILL hit me in the head. Every. Single. Time!
So, back to the slippery slope. I was at The Wilds and the activity of the day was hiking/mountain climbing. And it's for real. Not a man-made mountain wall with hand-holds and foot-holds. God made this mountain, and He made it for me to be in awe over the beauty and wonder of it, not to climb. But climb it I did. Every year. Because I am a good sport, remember? And I try.
Oh, one more thing. I am wearing Keds. My cute Keds. My version of tennis shoes at the time. I owned heels, flip-flops, and Keds. That's it. Why would I need those ugly athletic-type sneakers that are the size of the box they came in? I am not an athlete. But keep in mind that the sole of a Keds is slicker than a smashed banana on a tin roof. No grooves at all, even when they are brand new. And I had this pair for many years.
I'm sure you can see where this is going. My entire youth group is in front of me, and I am bringing up the rear. (Ha! That's funny in light of the rest of the story!) There are other youth groups behind me. (Ha! Again, funny!) We came to a part of the mountain that is very steep. Almost vertical. You are climbing UP. And almost at the top is a big stretch for the next hand-hold. Good thing I'm tall. That had served me well in the past.
Did I mention that it had been raining earlier that morning? Or that the moss on the mountain seemed particularly abundant this year? Must have been a rainy Spring.
I went for the stretch. I almost had it. And then, my Keds and the mountain began to lose their connection. I was losing ground, with no where for my free hand to grab hold.
My first thought was not for my impending death. I instead wondered how many bright, hopeful teens below me I would kill as I knocked them down like dominoes. I quickly prayed, "Lord, Help me!".
And immediately, He did! I felt a big hand give me a push, and my hand was on the next gripping place! I was so very happy. For a second. And then I thought about it. Wait. That didn't feel like God's hand. I wondered who the person behind me was.
A few yards ahead I reached a ledge where you can stand, kinda. I dared to look and my worst fears were realized. There came behind me a big ol' football-player-looking high school senior boy. A stranger. When he got where I was, only two words were exchanged between us. "Sorry", I said very sheepishly, meaning, sorry-I-almost-killed-you-and-your-friends. "Sorry", he very sheepishly replied, meaning, sorry-I-had-to-touch-your-butt-to-keep-us-all-from-dying.
That was a slippery slope!
And discouragement is just that. It in itself is not necessarily sinful, but it is a tool of the devil and he will lead you quickly to a place where you do not want to go. Down. You'd better stop and pray fast and hard, like we talked about in disappointments. Get alone with God and get in His Word. Because you are on a slippery slope. And only God can catch you. Discouragement leads where you do not want to go. Depression. Our last D.