Sometimes, discouragement knocks hard on your door and it takes everything in you not to invite it in to share a giant piece of chocolate cake.
Sometimes, you let it in. And you eat the cake. And the leftover spaghetti.
Sometimes, discouragement crawls into your bed and keeps it warm while you drag yourself to make breakfast and get kids to school and waits for you to return and pull the covers over your head.
Sometimes, it sits beside you on the couch and watches brain-sucking cartoons all day while toddlers run round in diapers and cowboy boots and stop all goobery in front of your face to wipe away your tears.
Sometimes, discouragement drives you to work, sits uncomfortably in your chair, stares at a blank screen . . .
When you’ve been sick and it’s gone on for a long time and no one has answers.
When you’ve been fighting battles with your child and every conflict throws failure in your face.
When you’ve worked overtime to finally get ahead and come home to a pile of bills that will set you way back.
When you can’t seem to find where you fit and no one invites and no one asks and no one notices.
When you finally let out the breath you’ve been holding only to discover your addict is at it again.
When you’ve said a thing and can’t take it back.
Discouragement knocks hard, relentless.
Discouragement whispers worthlessness and failure in your ear and says you can’t.
Discouragement spins a friend’s success or happy post into a jealousy or regret.
Discouragement infuses darkness with suffocating questions and tears.
Discouragement chokes out life-giving words and seasons speech with self.
Discouragement tells me I have lost my flavor and am of no good but to be tossed out and trampled.
Can salt be made salty again?
When I fear I have lost my flavor, I disappear
like Moses — into the sand and scorching sun
like Jonah — into the shade of a bitter vine
like a leper — bound by living graveclothes, followed only by a dog
* * * * *
Sunshine beckons me.
I find it on the trampoline in the haven of the backyard, soaking in noontime light and schoolday solitude.
I steel myself to the static shock of the ladder and climb up to lie down and sift through discouragement.
I hear nothing. No words of comfort.
But somewhere, below me, the tide is out.
A breeze passes over sun-warmed sand, mud, shells, carrying the sea to me and I breathe deep . . . inhaling a bit of salty air.
One day I will look back on this season. A season of physical breakdown, a season of letting go of a child, a season of wordlessness, a season of discouragement.
But I am not yet in the looking back.
* * * * *
Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. Psalm 25:16
Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8
* * * * *
This morning I remember the thing about discouragement.
How sickness, exhaustion, anger, hurt and loneliness open the door to it.
How it wallows in the past, thrives on lies, heaps on guilt, compares and finds wanting.
How it sucks everything into its mire and drains the world of sunlight and air.
How you could drown in it, whether sea or sand. How you need to be pulled out.
* * * * *
Grace has been shaken over my life.
Sometimes, grace sits beside me long hours in a waiting room.
Sometimes, grace draws me away from my solitude to get some lunch, shares tears over tea.
Sometimes, grace brings dinner, or calls just to hear my voice.
Sometimes, grace comes to me in now grown children who bend down to wrap their arms around me.
Sometimes, grace comes to me in the arms of a husband who awakens to tears in the middle of the night.
Sometimes, grace is felt in the presence of a doctor who listens and sends you for labs and sees you again and again until…until.
Sometimes, grace becomes a permanent fixture on my nightstand, in the pages of survival stories of desert seasons.
When I fear I have lost my flavor, I remember.
Deb Beddoe is an author, editor, bookseller, and pastor’s wife who lives in a little town on the Puget Sound in Washington State. She and her husband Dave have four grown and growing kids, two aging cats, and an embarrassingly large and misbehaved dog. Her book, The Heart of Recovery, is all about the role of community in recovery and the healing properties of compassion. Nature is her favorite place to connect (unless it’s cold) but online you’ll find her most often nurturing her creative soul @the_well_writer on Instagram.