Thursday, August 4, 2011

Discouragement & Hope

Every once in a while I get stuck.  Emotionally, physically, spiritually...I become discouraged or disheartened.  Does that ever happen to you?   Surely I'm not the only one.  I reach this place for a variety of reasons, but most of them have to do with meditating too long and hard on my failures, whether real or perceived.  I don't do enough.   I don't do it well enough.  I am not enough as a wife, mother, friend, church-member, volunteer, daughter, sister, cook, housekeeper, writer, Christian, neighbor, etc.  I am too broken, too selfish, too tired, too immature, too undisciplined, too emotional, too Stoic, too cerebral, too analytical, too introverted, too serious, too flippant, too lazy, too get the idea.  With all my imperfections on display, I feel ridiculed, mocked, scorned or despised.  Worse yet, those reactions seem justified.

For reasons yet unknown to me,  I sometimes experience this heightened sense of The Fall and its effects on myself, my circumstances, and the other people in my life.  All the brokenness of life comes rushing on my mind and heart in a way stops me in my tracks and leaves me with the urge to hide, or mope, or run away.   Thank God this experience is not continual or permanent, but it is disturbing nonetheless. 

I know the Christian thing to do when this happens, is to read the Bible, pray, fellowship with others, give thanks, and remember the faithfulness of God in history and in my own life.  These are certainly valid ways to deal with discouragement because they are based in Truth and Reality. 

But the experiences of life which lead to disappointment and emptiness, are no less real or true.  We DO live in a fallen world that has not yet been entirely redeemed from the curse and we would be silly to deny that reality.  When this state of mind is not easily banished by my usual remedies (those stated above), I often find that my spirits can be lifted  by stories of the great perseverance of others.  Seeing or hearing of those who endure hardships which surpass mine by miles, alters my perspective and provides encouragement.  

One of those real-life stories was brought to my attention today.  This clip highlights the hard work and accomplishment of dozens of young Haitian men who  lost a limb as a result of injuries sustained in the 2010 earthquake.  Theirs is a story of triumph, endurance, and hope...of failure to cave under the trials of change and loss.  The energy and enthusiasm they exude is life-giving.

The Butterfly Circus is one of those artistic (as opposed to real-life) narratives to which I return again and again.  It reminds me that true grace, beauty, and love are most wonderfully manifest, not in the absence of pain, scars, sin and failure, but in spite of, because of, and through those things. 

In redemption, not perfection, we find hope.  This work of art showcases a host of characters who inspire us because love has brought them from sin and despair into a place of hope and beauty...a beauty which they readily share with others.  They were not enough...but they found LIFE.

The quality of the YouTube recording does not do  justice to the original film's stunning visuals, but it is the only full-length version I could publish. (visit the link above for a chance to watch it in all its glory!)  Apparently, the film's popularity has prompted its writers to expand it into a full-length feature film which will be released some time in the not-too-distant future.  

If you haven't seen this film yet, you must.  We all need to grasp the hope and redemption of this story...and, whatever your circumstances, this will prompt you to envision hope and redemption in your own story.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Lori for putting into words the way I feel about me too. I appreciate your candor and transparency. Thanks for the remedy. I also like to read/watch/hear about people who have overcome huge obstacles and keep on keeping on. The human spirit is amazing. God's Spirit is even more so. Joanie

Lori Shaffer said...