Help, I’m Discouraged, Defeated and Starving!

08.07.14 | by Aarron Schwartz

    Groundhog day. Almost every afternoon brings the same domestic dilemma.

    “Sweetie, what do you want to do for dinner?”

    “I don’t know, what do you want?”

    “What do we have?”

    “Not much, we need to go grocery shopping.”

    “It’s 5 o’clock, what do we have in the fridge?”

    “Nothing really.”

    Cue me walking to the fridge to check. As though my wife (who can find a needle in a haystack while I am still searching for the stack) does not know what is there. I open the door of mystery searching for a hidden gem among the miscellaneous jars, containers and foil wrapped objects.

    First look: I do a quick scan of shelves, and drawers finding nothing appetizing. Closing the door, I then search the pantry finding nothing but cereal, instant rice, and some random cans of vegetables left over from the Y2K scare.

    Second look: I open the fridge again; thinking something new might show up. I help out by actually moving stuff. Nothing. Time to look in the freezer. Well… there are some frozen hamburger buns, and a meat product resembling a liquid nitrogen experiment gone horribly wrong. Still got ice cream though.

    Third look: I am now searching my brain for a combination of freezer contents, fridge misfits, and pantry tumbleweeds that might magically form a team and produce something quickly edible. It’s not happening.

    It’s incredible how accurately this mirrors my everyday existence during times of discouragement. Each day I wait for divine intervention to magically turn what is within my heart and mind into some kind of spiritual surprise party. Nothing happens, and I wonder if I am loved, and seen by God. The hunger pangs continue to hurt.

    You cannot draw upon what you do not possess. Spiritual, physical, and emotional discipline is not legalism, its grocery shopping. Yes, all must be done. If we are physically, and emotionally unhealthy, we will struggle to wade through the fog to hear God clearly. The vicious circle can at times feel impossible to break. When you are discouraged, there is no motivation to exercise, read, seek counsel, serve others, get out of the house, take time for meaningful solitude, or visit the doctor. It feels like every ounce of energy is being mustered just to exist. The pile of needs mount in your head as you stare at the barren fridge, overwhelmed with what it will take to catch up. You remember what it was like to be fully stocked. Healthy. Excited. Joyful. Grateful. Thoughtful. That so-called healthy vision of you only makes it worse. He gets up at 5 am to train for marathons, and does crunches while reading entire books of the Bible only in the King James Version. His rock hard abs are due to a strict diet of organic kale smoothies and grass-fed grass. Yep, he is never distracted by his iPhone while his kids are headed off to school. He believes every truth, rejects every lie, and farts encouragement. He would kick your butt... and does. Fortunately or unfortunately, he doesn’t exist.

    Do one thing. That is the only way I know to break out. Every year during College/ Seminary I got to finals week and stared at my list of papers due and tests to be taken, immobilized by the weight of it all. But each year they got done.

    One thing at a time.

    So cliché, but so true. Each accomplishment gave me courage to start the next task. Go for a walk. Read one paragraph. Start a list of gratitude. Hug someone (…preferably that you know. Some people get creeped out easily.) Make an appointment to see a doctor or counselor. Go to church this Sunday.

    Just close the fridge and do one thing today.

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