Generation Cedar

Perhaps the title should read, “Satan’s best tool” but it’s just a title, and sometimes Satan gets blamed for things we do to ourselves.

As a 43 year old mother of eleven, I feel like I’m just really grasping some simple, yet profound gems that make this journey a bit easier, and I’ll just cut to the chase on this one:

Discouragement is your worst enemy.

It might be a result from a spiritual battle with the enemy wielding the weapon, or it may be a failure to take our thoughts captive, making us the guilty culprit of our own imprisonment. I hope this post will help you regardless of who is to blame.

The thought life that you allow (or prevent) will largely shape the person you become, the life you live, whether it’s effective or not, and ultimately it will shape those in your care and sphere of influence.

Here’s what discouragement sounds like:

“You lost your patience with your children again. You’re not a good mother. They are going to grow up with character flaws because of you.”

“You can’t keep up with everything. You should probably not have even had any kids.”

“You’ll never be like that mom. She is patient and kind all the time.”

“You’re just a bad mom. Don’t bother.”

See, all those things are lies, even if you have a long way to go in your motherhood journey. If you are a child of God, you are in the process of being sanctified, just like the rest of us. Where one mother has a strength, your strength may lie somewhere else, but Satan will blind you to that fact.

Where you see a family from the outside, all shiny and perfect-looking, Satan will try to prevent us from being transparent about our struggles, giving the impression that everyone else has it together. It’s not true.

Discouragement keeps you from being the best you.

It keeps you from seeing the gifts God has given you, and it keeps you from even improving on the areas where you are weak.

Discouragement takes you in the direction of despair, and that is no place for us to be. And if you give Satan any ground, he’ll take it all.

So, what to do about it?

If you are given to discouragement, I want you to take these steps:

  1. Get some index cards and look up these verses (or look up your own) and write one on each card, and then put the cards in places where you can see them, recite them (out loud) and memorize them throughout the day. Here’s why: discouragement is a temptation from the enemy. By the example of Jesus, we get rid of the enemy one way: by quoting Scripture. And we are transformed by one thing: the renewing of our minds. We cannot underestimate this.

Psalm 27:14

John 14:27

Joshua 1:9

John 16:33

Hebrews 4:16

2. Take your thoughts captive. Replace discouraging thoughts with truth. The Scripture will help with this, but you can also speak truth to yourself. When you start to have thoughts like, “You are a bad mom”, force yourself to say, out loud, “You are a good mom.” The power of the mind is also not to be underestimated.

Also, Satan will always keep your failures before you until they overshadow your successes. And certain personalities are masters at exaggerating their own weaknesses while minimizing their strengths (ask me how I know). Stop that. When you are given to rehearsing your failures, stop those thoughts and remind yourself of what you do that is good. Make a list of it and revisit it.

3. Talk to someone who will speak truth to you. Be transparent. Tell them your struggles and ask them to help hold you accountable to studying God’s Word and renewing your mind.

4. Begin your day with prayer, specifically expressing gratitude to God for the gifts in your life. Discouragement is quickly driven out by gratitude. Even if you don’t feel like it, verbalize it. Act your way into feeling it.

5. Exercise. You know about endorphins and their role in your emotional health. Even if it’s just walking for 10 minutes a day, it will help you tremendously.

6. Finally, take careful inventory of details in your life that might be contributing. Get your husband to help you with this part, even if it’s just to be a sounding board. Are you taking optimal care of your health (supplements, healthy eating, exercise, getting enough sleep, etc.)? Would it help to start your day earlier? Is meal time a source of stress that could be simplified by planning out meals a week ahead and using your crock pot/simple meals more? Do you need to revamp the day’s schedule, getting your kids more involved? Is there something you could delegate? (Early on, my oldest daughter started doing all the laundry. I was so bad at it, and she was good at it and liked it. But she hated dishes, so I took that over. Find what works.) Be practical, do the important stuff first, and work in baby steps in the areas that need improving.

7. If none of these things seem to help you shake your discouragement, you  may be experiencing clinical depression. It’s a thing. Don’t feel ashamed to talk to your doctor or health professional about it.

It is my heart and prayer that because we are doing the profound work of shaping the next generation, we could be free from discouragement, and abounding in good works, full of energy and inspiration that comes through the Holy Spirit living in us.

I like the concept of this poem so I leave you with it:

Once upon a time, Satan was having a garage sale. There, standing in little groups were all of his bright, shiny trinkets. Here were tools that make it easy to tear others down for use as stepping stones. And over there were some lenses for magnifying ones own importance, which, if you looked through them the other way, you could also use to belittle others, or even one’s self.

Against the wall was the usual assortment of gardening implements guaranteed to help your pride grow by leaps and bounds: the rake of scorn, the shovel of jealousy for digging a pit for your neighbor, the tools of gossip and backbiting, of selfishness and apathy. All of these were pleasing to the eye and came complete with fabulous promises and guarantees of prosperity. Prices, of course, were steep; but not to worry! Free credit was extended to one and all. “Take it home, use it, and you won’t have to pay until later!” old Satan cried, as he hawked his wares.

The visitor, as he browsed, noticed two well worn, non-descript tools standing in one corner. Not being nearly as tempting as the other items, he found it curious that these two tools had price tags higher than any other. When he asked why, Satan just laughed and said, “Well, that’s because I use them so much. If they weren’t so plain looking, people might see them for what they were.” Satan pointed to the two tools, saying, “You see, that one’s Doubt and that one’s Discouragement — and those will work when nothing else will.” -Author Unknown

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13 Responses

  1. Wow!!! Get out of my head!!! I so could have written this, (if I could write, that is!) My husband has really been getting on me lately about my negativity. I always think the worst, and I am always downing myself. I need to take this article to heart! I shared it on facebook, and am thinking about printing it out as well. I am definitely saving the email!! Thank you so much!!!!

  2. Hi Kelly, this was very timely for me. Thank you for this great reminder. I was just asking my husband how it is possible to love something and hate something so much at the same time (not my kids, but the job of parenting). I am discouraged right now. I have told my kids (and I really mean it) that if someone offered me $1 billion to do something else, I would turn it down in a heartbeat. I want to be home. I want to home school. I want to be with them. I really do…. but the noise, the action,the bickering, the constant need for correction…make me long for nap time. Parenting brings out my weaknesses constantly. I am going to be more proactive about filling my heart with Scripture and bringing my thoughts under control in obedience to Christ. Love and appreciate you!

  3. Kelly,
    Thank you so much for always being open to God’s work. This could not have been posted at a better time for me! Thanks for the encouragement! Going to write down the scriptures now!

  4. Thank you, Kelly! This is just so right on! I pray many see and read and DO these practical steps and gain victory over Satan’s chief tool to undermine mothers. You are awesome!!

  5. LITERALLY right where I am today. SOOOO needed this Kelly. Thank you for writing it. Great ideas – getting my index cards out tonight!!!

  6. You know, that little Stop that in the middle of your post didn’t escape my notice. 😉 Put a smile on my face, it did. 🙂

    Good stuff here. I have Bible verses written on index cards, but they’re tucked away in a drawer, looked at only occasionally (very occasionally). They’ll be coming out of their hiding place today.

    Great verses you listed above, and your thoughts in your post are well worth considering.

    Interestingly, a friend shared an article today that goes along very well with the things you expressed here about discouragement. We get stuck in patterns of wrong thinking, and sometimes feel like God is a long way off, when He’s right here with us, in all His strength, when we are weak. From that article:

    First, remember: you are not alone…There is a lesson here: good men often feel worse than they are. These men begin in a moment of dark despair, but they do not end there. As the psalmists agonize, their hearts leak Scripture. In the darkness, back beneath the sense of dereliction, God is still there, giving them words, helping them Godward, inspiring the Bible. Yahweh is always nearer to us than we feel…

    “He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Faith has a warrant for this journey that is truer than our worst fears, and so we keep clinging to Him, for He clings to us (vv. 11–12). Like a terrier with a toy, Job grips this truth for all it is worth. He can’t feel himself holding on to God, but faith sees a stronger hand holding on to him—a hand that will never let him go.

    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/when-i-feel-stuck/

    So wonderful that there is a way out from being stuck in our discouragement and other feelings that weigh us down. Praise God for His faithfulness.

    Thanks for another encouraging post, Kelly.

    1. Thank you for sharing that quote–I absolutely love it! “Good men often feel worse than they are.” I am forever telling myself, “You’re probably not as bad as you think you are.” 🙂

  7. Great post, well needed. Discouragement is one of the devil’s favorite tactics because it immobilizes us; we feel we are not worthy enough to do the work God has called us to do. Also, we can become discouraged when we are hated by the world and/or professing Christians because we are standing on the truth of God’s word; we will be called named, attacked, and people will separate us from their company (Luke 6:22). Very relevant for our generation.

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