You Can’t, You Aren’t, You Won’t {The Burden of Discouragement}

The crumbly paved path between my parent's house and the next neighborhood over. This is where Grace and Peace found me last week.

The crumbly paved path between my parent's house and the next neighborhood over. This is where Grace and Peace found me last week.

The goal was to clear my head.

To see if I could free myself from the heavy, knotted feeling that had found itself an uncomfortable resting place in my chest.

Restless.

Anxious.

Discouraged.

The goal was to run. To try to run away. To try and shed the Restless. The Anxious. The Discouraged.

I needed to clear my head. From the things others had said to me. From the things others had said about me. From the things I was saying to myself, about myself.

All my thoughts started with:

You can’t…

You aren’t…

You won’t…

You’re only…

You don’t know…

If only you could…

Shame on you…

So I ran.

I ran for roughly nine minutes and thirty-five seconds. Roughly twenty minutes and twenty-five seconds less than usual.

I couldn’t do it.

I ran in hopes of being able to finally take a deep breath. But those blasted hills. My weak lungs. My heavy heart. The knotted weight in my chest only felt heavier, squeezing out any extra space for my lungs to expand and take in fresh oxygen.

Instead of deeper breaths, it was more like wheezing anxiety.

So I stopped running.

And instead, I sat down. On the crumbly paved path between my parent’s house and the neighborhood where I ran, I sat down.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. {Psalm 139:23-24}

I had read those words. I had meditated on them, repeated them over and over in my head. For days now. Yes, Lord. Know my anxious thoughts. Please.

But it was still there. The heaviness. The anxiety. The discouragement.

So I prayed. Sitting outside on that crumbly path, I prayed. All my prayers started with:

Lord, I feel nervous about…

Lord, it makes me anxious when…

Lord, I am discouraged because…

Lord, my heart feels sad now…

Lord, I worry since…

Lord, I am restless while…

Between the prayers, I sat and listened. I watched.

I could hear last night’s rain drip-dropping through the trees. I could feel the light breeze brushing through the leaves. Birds were gently singing. And when I looked down, a slimy worm was working hard to cross the crumbly paved path I was sitting on.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. {Psalm 145:8-9}

The other words I had been reading over and over. Truth I was trying to scrub all over my soul.

Gracious. Compassionate. Slow to anger. Rich in love. Good. To all He has made.

And I saw that.

I saw that when I saw the trees, heard the birds, saw the worm He provided last night’s rain for. He loves them. God loves His creation. And me. Me too. He loves me too.

And slowly, slowly. Between the truth of Scripture breathing its fresh oxygen into my lungs. Between the display of nature breathing comfort into my soul. The knots in my chest slowly started to unwind.

Maybe that day, I needed to realize that I couldn’t run from my thoughts.

From my own or from others’. Maybe I needed to face them, to acknowledge them. To recognize the burden of restlessness, anxiousness, of discouragement those thoughts placed on my heart.

Because maybe I can’t “cast my cares on Him” if I don't first acknowledge that "my cares" are there. If I only try to run from them and pretend they don’t exist. Pretend that everything's okay.

Maybe I needed to focus on Grace. Maybe every day, I need to focus on Grace. For myself. For others. God’s big Grace with its big Freedom for the mess I can be. The messes I make.

I need truth in my life. No matter how it is delivered. And a lot of those thoughts I was thinking, was telling myself were true: I can’t. I'm not. I’m only. If only I could. Shame on me.

But maybe that day, my soul needed to dwell on the full truth. To shift its focus:

I can’t. But Lord, You can.

I'm not. But Jesus, You are.

I won’t. But Christ, You will.

I’m only. But Father, You are everything.

I don’t know. But God, You know all.

If only I could. But Spirit, Your will be done.

Shame on me. But Savior, You took my shame away.

I still felt fragile. Burden lifted, I still felt like a new butterfly. Wings still too wet to fly.

But I stood up, ready to carry on.

Ready to remember what my dear friend encouraged me to remember: that the person I am and the work that I do is for an audience of One. To the glory of One. One who loves me.

I stood up, ready to cast my burden of restlessness, anxiousness, and discouragement aside.

Ready, after finally acknowledging that this burden was there. Heavy on my heart.

I stood up, ready to shift my focus from my own weaknesses and limitations to the strong and limitless God whom I serve. 

On a short, crumbly paved, tree-covered path. Still fragile, I stood up.

Fragile, but freed.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

 

P.S. Dear Friend. Dear spouse, parent, employee, member, sibling, child, creative mind, caregiver. What burdens are you carrying in your heart today? How are they making you feel restless, anxious, discouraged?