Recently I spoke with an almost-empty-nest mom about what God might have for her in her next season of life. She shared what she loved to do, how she felt equipped to do it, and she believed she did a good job. However, every positive thing she shared was enveloped in many negative things:
- I don’t have enough education.
- I’m not good enough.
- No one will take me seriously.
- And on she went. . .
I knew every positive point she made was truthful. She is good at the passion God put in her heart. I know she would do a sensational job, be fulfilled, and show God’s grace and love to each of her future clients. I could see the fabulous future God has for her. But she couldn’t see any of it because the cloud of doubt, fear, and discouragement veiled her the next thing God had for her and was trying to show her.
This empty-nest mom is not the only one to flounder in the cloud of discouragement, doubt, and fear. I know I’ve gotten lost in it many times. I talk to women often who know God has a next step for them, but they sit stuck, unwilling to take the next small step God directs them to take.
However, succumbing to the cloud of discouragement is not as innocuous as it seems. Discouragement makes us focus on lies—similar to the ones my friend gave. When we focus on lies we factor God out of our lives. We become weak and powerless. We sit stuck. We aren’t doing anything wrong, but we’re not trusting God either. We’re not living for Him or trusting Him to live His plan for us. The enemy wins. The amazing next thing God has for us goes undone, but our heart continually has a dull ache for the unfulfilled passion.
- Believe God. Believe God has given you gifts (1 Corinthians 7:7). Believe God has a plan for you (Ephesians 2:10). Believe God wants you to use your gifts (1 Timothy 4:14).
- The billboard announcing God’s five-year plan for you or the engraved invitation from God inviting you to serve Him will be far and few between. We must be sensitive to God’s prompting. If God is stirring you, listen up.
- Just take the next step. Two years ago I felt the prompting of God to return to college to get my Bachelor’s Degree. Within two weeks I enrolled in college—taking only two classes. I didn’t how I would manage to get my degree with my already full life, but I knew if I didn’t start immediately I most likely never would.
- Continually pray for God to guide you and give you what you need. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
- Pray for someone to journey with you. Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew the importance of someone to walk along with her. Immediately after Gabriel’s visit, she traveled to spend time with Elizabeth whose pregnancy was also a miracle as she was barren and “well along in years” (Luke 1:7). A kindred spirit to journey with you can pray for you, encourage you, and give you perspective.
I know discouragement, doubt, and fear seem harmless. But in reality they keep us from the abundant life Jesus died to give us (John 10:10). As God’s big girls, we see it for what it is, and move ahead step by step with God.
What do you sense God calling you to do? What is your next (baby) step?
~Maximizing Your Effectiveness: How to Discover and Develop Your Divine Design, by Aubrey Malphurs
~Princess Unaware: Finding the Fabulous in Every Day, by Brenda Garrison
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.