Have you ever faced those times when you seem to be so discouraged for no real reason? (Even though it seems like it is all very real in the middle of it!) As I have gone through the process of pondering whether it was a good idea to hit publish on this little blog idea I hit a period of real discouragement. It seemed to me that in so many areas of my life I wasn’t “making it”. The question loomed large in my mind, “If you are failing in all these areas (“wife”ing, mothering, “friend”ing, home making, home schooling etc. etc.), what do you have to offer anyone else? What possible expertise do you have that would be of benefit to others?”
(Please do not jump in the comments and tell me how awesome I am…I have recovered from my discouragement now and realise the overdramatic nature of my judgements 🙂 )
Looking back I see that much of my discouragement could be traced back to the “perfect storm” conditions in my life at the time. You know, all those small things which wouldn’t usually make a difference but when added together become significant. Think tummy bugs, extra hospitality (which I love and wouldn’t change!), a year that has been out of the normal in many ways, as well as working through some challenges God has been giving me in my own character and relationships, and a few other things added in as well. All those things added up to weakness when those lies started running around in my head. So for a few days I gave in and listened.
As I pondered those questions of what I had to offer others and I guess, of whether I had anything left myself, I finally came to the point where I realised that there was one thing that I could not “wipe off the table”. While all those things that depended on me were fallible, the one thing, or rather person, who was solid and firm and wasn’t disappearing was Christ Jesus. He was the thing that allowed me to say, “Even if all those other things were gone, I have something to offer, I have something to hold onto myself.”
As I realised this I think I caught a glimpse of what Paul meant when he said,
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8)
In this passage in Phil 3:1-11 Paul lists a whole variety of things which would make him valuable and suitable as a leader in the church and then says that none of them are what really matters. Those weren’t the things which he desired, or the things he wanted others to work for. What he desired for himself and what he felt he had to offer others was, simply, being united with Christ. At the end of the day, Paul wanted to be found in Him.
As I read Paul in other areas of Scripture I don’t believe that He is calling us to wallow in our own hopelessness and to discard anything which makes us a better person (wife, mother, friend, etc.) as being worthless. God is at work in us and He does equip us with gifts and insight and the ability to apply the principles of scripture to life. As He does this He blesses us and He blesses others through us. Having passed through that period of discouragement I have, rightly or wrongly (small smile), come out on the other side believing that I do have something to offer in terms of ways of applying God’s Word to day to day life. I have also come out with a slightly deeper understanding that even if I didn’t, I could still offer Christ. Even more than that, if I offer any of the rest of it, without pointing people to Christ, I am offering them “garbage”.
If I had the choice I would remain positive and never be discouraged again. However, like many trials I have been through in life, I am grateful for this one because it has given me insight into God’s perspective. I have caught another glimpse of my weakness and God’s wonderful grace. I hope that will allow me to go forward with a little less pride in me but a lot more confidence in Christ.
When you have opportunities to speak into the lives and issues other people face do you consider your relationship with Christ as the most important thing you can offer? This challenges me as I so often jump to the “fix-it” solution or the expertise I feel I can offer. I am challenged today to pause and think about how I can offer Christ.