I got a lot of responses after discussing discouragement in my last posting, and realized I’d touched upon something that affected more lives than mine. A lot of encouragement and some good advice also helped, but that just started me reflecting upon qestions like these: Is being discouraged the same as being in total despair? Is it the same as giving up? Or is it mostly just the impatience of having to wait (again!) for something I think will make a difference?
The short answers would be ‘No,’ ‘No,’ and ‘Yes.’ The longer answers, however, will take more time, thought, and reflection. As is often the case, I decided to haul out the dictionary and narrow the field with more precise wording. So here goes:
discourage: to take away the courage of; to try to prevent; to hinder
impatient: lacking patience; annoyed because of delay; restlessly eager
After comparing those two words, I realized that what I was feeling was impatience, not discouragement. I think I’d already known that, but it’s good to have written proof. I have not lost my courage to get through each day, no matter how difficult, and no one is trying to prevent or hinder me from anything, at least in the physical world (though I’m certain things are always happening in the spiritual world). On the other hand, I know for a fact I often lack patience, I get annoyed because of all the delays, and I’m restlessly eager to get on with the program and resume even a modified version of a normal life. I had one when I first returned from Texas, though the pain in my head soon dulled my sense of it. I was walking better (because for the first month and a half after my return I’d improved enough to only need a cane) and was seeing steady upward progression, even though I had those constant toothaches. Since I had those two teeth pulled though? Since then it’s been walker days only, and the abilities I’d regained earlier have slowly degenerated. It’s back to five minutes to put my socks and sneakers on, and rolling over in bed is nearly the struggle it was right before I left in October. These are my reasons for impatience now, mostly because if I hadn’t had a taste of something better then I might not be so frustrated now. It has been like seeing that “glimpse of the future” and then being told I can’t have it.
So, I guess the next question is: How should I best deal with that frustration? And I mean how should I best deal with that frustration TODAY? Since I know full well that I’m annoyed by the delays, I need to investigate what God is saying through my circumstances. Remember them? If God is saying ‘wait,’ or ‘not yet,’ I need to pay attention to that. I need to pay attention to the circmstances of others around me as well, and stop becoming impatient over the immediately unchangeable in favor of those things I can change. And that mostly means MY attitude. It occurs to me that if God is making a point, the sharpened end will soon make an appearance, just like that tooth shard in my mouth! My job is to dig a little deeper into the Word and see what some of my examples from the past have had to say about patience. (The length of time Abraham awaited Isaac or David becoming king immediately spring to mind!) That just lets me know for certain I’m not the only one who’s ever been frustrated.
And that there are godly exmples to follow.