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:
- 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.
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