Hi everyone! Happy Monday! I know I am a day late on my “Reflecting on the Little Things” and I’ll be honest.. I was pretty busy yesterday and TOTALLY forgot! As I remembered at 9 o’clock last night, my eyes forcing shut, I sighed because I didn’t know what I would talk about. Writing an encouraging blog post was the last thing I wanted to do. What was I supposed to say when I had a discouraging day? How was I supposed to be bright when I felt sad all day?
I knew that tomorrow would be a new day with new people, new opportunity, and new tasks. My roommate said “Why don’t you just do it tomorrow and explain that you were busy today?” and she was right. I love affirmation from others to help me make decisions haha. I knew that if I did it today, that it would be a truly encouraging Word from God. I’d rather be a day late with all of God’s Word than on time with something I created on the spot all by myself.
Yesterday started really weird. As I was getting ready for church, listening to my worship music, a sadness just came over me. I started crying and searching for my waterproof mascara (which was no where to be found of course). I knew I’d probably cry again in worship at church for some reason. You should know, tears are a part of my life and I cry often during worship music just because of how good Jesus is and how I still cannot believe that I am found in Him and that He constantly forgives me and loves me so much.
Every small thing seemed to go wrong. I couldn’t come up with an outfit I was satisfied with, couldn’t find the waterproof mascara, left late, and couldn’t find something I was supposed to bring to church.
I show up late to the meeting before Life Group Launch and am feeling the literal worst. It was SO strange how unworthy I felt. How unneeded I felt. My good friend Lexi asked how I was and I ignored the question at first but she soon asked again and I told her I was not good and the tears came like a waterfall. I didn’t even know what to tell her was wrong 😂 I was supposed to be super joyful and get girls signed up for my life group, but I felt all kinds of opposite of that. Lexi was QUICK to remind me who God says I am, who God has called me to be, and how the enemy is speaking lies on my life that morning. We prayed and she spoke God’s Truth over me and I walked out of the bathroom with tear marks in my makeup and a big smile. God carried me through the day.
I didn’t have to fake it. I just took a moment with a trusted friend, cried it out, prayed it out, then moved forward.
I don’t know if this is something that comes as difficult for you guys – it used to for me. When my people ask me how I am, I am 100% honest with them. There is no question. There is no reason for me to act like I’m okay around the people who will be a healing path for me and who care for me more than anyone else, when I am not okay.
We can all say that we have been discouraged at some time in our lives. Discouragement can really get us down. It can keep us from living the potential God has set for us. I think discouragement can come from 3 different sources:
Sin can cause us to feel discouraged. Sin, unfortunately, is inevitable in our lives (Romans 3:23). We are imperfect humans living in an imperfect world. And sin is the only thing that used to separate us from God. But ever since Jesus died on the cross and reconciled us back to God, sin no longer separates us from God. We have a choice of receiving free forgiveness that God has given us through Jesus.
However, it’s a truth that the sin in our lives can discourage us. It can get us down. I think it’s just because we want to please God and we know that sin doesn’t please God. Another truth is, though, that we are saved by a God who remembers our sin no more and doesn’t count it against us. He cares about our hearts. Of course, sin can be a reflection of what’s in our hearts and that’s why Jesus cares about how we live, but He cares most about our heart condition. If our heart’s well, our intentions will be well, then our actions will be well. If our heart’s crushed or hardened, our intentions will be spiteful, and our actions will be deadly.
“We died to sin – how can we live in it any longer? We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died [to self] has been freed from sin! Count yourselves as dead to sin but alive in Christ.”
Other people can cause us to feel discouraged. Sadly there are times in our life where people use their words not to set us up to win, but to set us up to fail. Our words are so powerful. Not everyone uses them to better the world. Some of us are guilty ourselves for using our words unwisely because of a way we feel or a bad experience we had.
This can even happen on social media. Through people you don’t even know. Celebrities or other successful people that inspire you. Sometimes it can be discouraging looking at where they are in life, then looking at yours. Truth is, though, we all only display the greatest of our lives on social media. You never know what is happening behind a screen, behind the scenes. I bet that person doesn’t have as great of a life as you think the do. OR we could look at it this way: every person’s walk is different. It can be discouraging to me to see someone in a season of life that I long to be in, but am not in yet. But comparison will steal your joy RIGHT out of your hands.
If we learn to love the season we are in, we will love the seasons we inherit.
This year I’ve chosen to keep my circle out of social media and in my real life. What do I mean by that? I have decided to be more present in Fayetteville and the U of A and NLC, instead of thinking about what’s going on in NYC (or another city), or another college, or some other church. I am going to be my very best Claire in Fayetteville, Arkansas because this is where God has called me today. I’m not going to worry about what I could be to someone else in a different city.
You have to know… Even just a simple smile to someone walking by can make their day.
Be abundant in the encouragement you give to people. Even in the most mundane of conversations, turn it around to positivity. We could choose to either complain with that person, or turn the conversation around and speak life-giving words. I’ve been guilty of this. “I’m going to fail this next test.” “This 8am class is going to be the WORST.” Be the other person in the conversation to say “No, don’t say that! You are going to do GREAT on this test.” or “This could be an opportunity for you to get things done early in the day and have the rest of the day to yourself!” There are ways to turn a conversation around, in encouragement, in life.
We can often cause ourselves to feel discouraged. We speak things over ourselves. Like what I said above, “I’m going to fail this test.” “This 8am is going to be the worst.”
For me, I can often get down on myself when I forget things. In our society today, we are very task-oriented. We have to-do lists that are an eternity long. And I was literally born forgetful. I don’t just “remember” things. I have to write them down on something I’ll remember to look at.
Unfortunately I forget VERY important things very often. That can be discouraging on myself because I expect more from myself. I think that’s a healthy expectation to have but I also think we should often give ourselves grace. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy but I think there are multiple things we can do proactively to keep us in the right mindset:
1. Check Your Environment
Your environment – the people you choose to spend your time with, the music you choose to listen to, the TV shows and movies you choose to watch, the opportunities you choose to give yourself by the settings you are in.
If we are constantly in a negative environment, we will let that influence us whether we recognize it or not, and we will often find ourselves discouraged. I can relate to this, and I’m sure you can too. If we get around the right people, we will get out the right things.
Can I challenge you to get out of your negative environment even if it’s comfortable so that you can find life in encouragement?
Yesterday my friend Lexi made all the difference in the world when I was feeling down. She was quick to encourage me and I didn’t even have to ask her. Have friends in your life that you know will constantly encourage you, even when you don’t need it! You can never get/give too much encouragement.
2. Find the Little Things
The name of my blog! Sometimes it’s a lot of little things added up that can discourage us, BUT there are other little things in life that can cheer us up and make us feel better. What is it in your life that is so small but means so much to you?
For me sometimes it’s snuggling my [roommate’s] dog. Or making myself iced coffee (or purchasing it from a local coffee shop). Or sitting on my front porch listening to the white noise. Or driving listening to 80’s jams.
Yesterday it was appreciating the nice checkout lady at Walmart. She was the one to give me grace when I needed it! I was being so choosy on the Valentine’s balloons I wanted, but she was so patient and kind through it all.
3. Stay Encouraged
We have constantly got to be in the Word of God if we want to stay encouraged. It is the ONLY word that brings LIFE. It’s alive, active, and sharpens us!
The more we are aware of how worthy we are to God, the easier it’ll be to take captive those thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish every argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
Wow! Let’s do this! When I open His word, I know He loves me, I know He’s for me and I know He is here. That’s a promise!
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
I have got to stay in God’s word, then I will stay encouraged.
I pray that this encouraged and/or helped some of you today! Know that you are not alone in your struggle and that God is with you and He loves you!
Have a wonderful evening.