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On Discouragement

I’m feeling a bit distracted this week–I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s significant in comparison to last week. I’ve been thinking on why this might be–and it could be anything really–but I think it’s a combination of things, one being that I’m exhausted, as I haven’t been able to sleep through the night due to shoulder pain. (For those who don’t know, I had shoulder surgery in late July and am still healing.)

I also tend to get distracted and off-track when I’m not sure what I want to do. I generally try to stick to a schedule with some flexibility. But then when my schedule gets off-track, I have a hard time determining what to drop and what to pick up. Paralysis by analysis, if you will.

But I think the biggest issue at play here is the overall sense of discouragement I’ve been feeling. This feeling of discouragement is uncomfortable, and well, I don’t like uncomfortable feelings. So my first instinct is to try to figure out how to make the feelings “go away”–without the hard heart work of course. (Yes, I’m aware this doesn’t work, but it doesn’t seem to keep me from trying!)

In my attempts to make these feelings “go away,” I try to “fix” whatever is making me feel discouraged. And by “fix” I mean I ruminate on it and constantly check on it and try to figure out if there’s something I can do to make things go away. (Because that is entirely helpful.)

For the purpose of this post, I’m just going to focus on one area in which I’m discouraged, and that’s in my career.

Let me just start by saying I don’t know that patience is my strong suit. And job searches require patience. Patience with the fact that you can rarely just apply with one account–instead, you have to apply on every organization-specific portal, creating new accounts, uploading your resume (again), re-entering your job history (because we all know it never imports correctly), writing another cover letter…it takes time an energy. Patience waiting to hear back from your application–did you get an interview? After the interview, did I make it to the next step? (This can take a while.) And then waiting for the job offer.

Right now I feel like I’m in limbo on two different potential jobs, and I feel like limbo is the worst place to be in a job search. You keep applying to jobs maybe not wanting any quite as much as one you’re waiting to hear from but you can’t keep waiting to hear back. Did they forget about me? Did they even look at my portfolio? When do I check in?

Because I’m a little lacking in patience department, it’s easy for me to get discouraged the longer the job search goes on. Thoughts like these flood my mind:

Why is my resume not getting a response?

Is it my job history?

Is it because my previous employer chose to change my job title?

Am I unqualified?

Am I applying for jobs beyond my ability?

Maybe I think I’m better than I really am.

Maybe I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

Maybe I’m not good enough.

And so the spiral begins. My inability to see the future makes me feel discouraged. Discouragement leads to feeling inadequate. And when I feel inadequate, I begin to tell myself all sorts of things that aren’t true.

To be discouraged, according to Merriam-Webster, means to be “deprived of courage or confidence”, confidence meaning the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

And in this case, I am losing mental strength.

The Greek word for discouraged is enkakeō, which means “give up, get tired, grow weary.”

This word has been translated as “give up,” “get tired,” “discouraged,” and “grow weary.”

And yet, do you know that this word is never used to describe someone as being in a state of discouragement? Instead, this word is used to encourage believers not to give up.

Today I remind myself not press on, to persevere, and to not give up with this verse in mind:

“So no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16, TPT

There are many other verses in Scripture about persevering, but this one stood out to me. My mental strength may be draining, my physical strength waning (lack of sleep), but as I cling to Christ daily, He will give me all I need to continue to press on toward His purpose for me.

I hope you keep that in mind today too, and that you’ll cling to Him for strength.

Where are you discouraged? How I can pray for you?

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