One of my least favorite emotions, and yet like all of the ones we’d rather not experience, discouragement has something to say. It sets in when something rears its head again, or when we think we’ve gotten to the root of something and come to find out that we haven’t. At this point it feels like it would be easier to just throw in the towel, forget whatever the issue is, or give up rather than keep going. But this gray sense of disappointment, whether in ourselves, others, or both, is an invitation to look deeper.

Discouragement tells us that what’s been done isn’t what needs to be done. Our work is to figure out what that is.

Discouragement suggests that there are stones yet unturned, paths not yet taken, or viewpoints not yet seen. Our work is to turn over new rocks, embark on the new trail, or look through a different lens.

Left to its own devices, discouragement can lead to a loss of confidence and enthusiasm, leaving us downhearted and demoralized. So rather than leave it to its sorry little self, it is better to grab it by the hand and walk with it until a next right step appears, which if we stick with it, it almost always does. And that’s encouraging.