I’m sure you’ve been there. Keenly aware that “the next” is right over the horizon, but you recognize that all of your strivings can’t make anything happen. It can turn into a place of great frustration – even bitterness – if we let it. The good news is this: you don’t have to let it!
Over the years I’ve discovered a few practical steps that have helped me maintain focus during those seasons that it would have been easy to let discouragement sink in:
Yes, actively decide where to direct your focus. Choose thankfulness – purpose gratitude – magnifying the “good” that’s around you. If you’re a believer, & you’ve already tripped & fallen into that hole of despair – struggling to find anything to be immediately thankful for – turn to God’s Word & the promises of Scripture, or outside of yourself, to the people & things around you. Prone to navel-gaze, I’ve had times when I’ve struggled to see God doing anything good in my life – I simply didn’t have a good perspective to see it. I found it far easier to see His hand in the lives around me, & there I found strength. I think that’s one of the reasons that God is often mentioned in the Bible with someone’s name attached to Him. In the Bible, God is often “the God of Abraham” or “the God of Jacob” or “the God of David”. Each name attached to God’s brings to mind God’s faithfulness in those stories – in those lives. At the moment, Abraham didn’t have the perspective to think, “Oh yeah, this is in God’s hand – He’s going to work this for good”, but in hindsight we recognize God’s faithfulness to fulfill every promise He made. And as point 1.5, it may help to make time daily to remove your everyday distractions, & get back to nature. Get outside – ponder the trees, air – the wind & things that grow. It helps one regain the WONDER to get away, & it’s easier to regain a healthy perspective there.
For me, I can apply this by going for a morning run. I listen to my current favorite worship songs (or Christian hip-hop: love me some LeCrae, Andy Mineo, or Derek Minor), & thank God for the little bits of beauty I see as I go, also praying as led for the houses I pass along the way.
Pay attention to your heart, & be quick to weed your thoughts of discontent. Don’t let those thoughts discourage you, and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for feeling them. Instead, take those to “Daddy” (the most literal translation of “Our Father…” in our tongue – He’s a good, good Daddy!), because He is interested in you, & concerned with the matters of your heart. If some keep coming back to haunt you, write them out – keeping a journal handy is always helpful, even if you don’t use it often. If you begin to suspect that an unfulfilled desire may have actually been placed there by God – a foreshadowing of something to come, but not yet here – cast your cares on Him, & choose to trust Him with the results. When the Bible speaks of having “faith” it’s not so much about believing certain specific doctrines (though there is room for that, too), but rather, faith is TRUSTING in a specific person – God – because you know Him & you know His heart. Every time discontentment rises, stop the thought, wrap it up in the truth of who God is, & what He has done, choose to trust what He is doing, & throw that discontentment out. Rinse, & Repeat.
FAITH IS TRUSTING IN A SPECIFIC PERSON – GOD – BECAUSE YOU KNOW HIM & YOU KNOW HIS HEART
If you suspect the desire is from God, don’t be afraid to carve out time to pursue that “thing” – be obedient with the peripheral time & energy you have left over. Look for crevices of space in your day to do the thing your heart is leaning toward. Schedule a trip; go to a conference; make a Skype appointment; reach out to people who are where you want to be. Take those small steps, & see if God surprises you, while not allowing yourself to entertain thoughts of opportunities-missed.
And lastly, CELEBRATE:
When you see others finding success in the thing you feel called to pursue, CELEBRATE THEIR WINS! Do not compare yourself to them, or allow yourself to think about the wins you wish you had. Instead recognize that they are made by the same God who made you (and, if they are Christ-followers, are being REmade by that same God as well), & the same power is at work in your life as made their success possible! 2 Peter 2:5 says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and in due season He will lift you up.” Do the very best with what you have, & thank God for what is right in front of you, & when weariness comes, simply converse with Daddy; “What can I learn from this?” Usually when God hasn’t yet changed your circumstances, it’s an opportunity for Him to at least help you change your heart. Galatians 6:9 is a helpful reminder, as well: “…let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”
I won’t lie: it’s not always easy knowing you’re not where you want to be, but there’s hope! God will not leave you where you are!
What little steps have you found to give you encouragement while you wait?