Did you ever have one of those days when you feel like you are doing nothing but banging your head against a wall? A day where you hit obstacle after obstacle and are living the old adage, one step forward and two steps back? I’m having one of those weeks, and I have to admit, I feel so discouraged. This is hard for me because I am not a person who is easily discouraged. So, today I’m going to try to think of ways to overcome these feelings, and I have the perfect starting point.
This morning, I received the best email ever. It came from someone I have never met, a reader of my latest book, Island of Hope. Diana wrote, “This was an amazing book!!!! The characters were very real and likable and the whole story line gave a sense of hope! I read it in less than 24 hours, it was that good!!! This was the first of your books I had read….and I loved it!! I look forward to reading more! I shared quotes from your book that I found very inspirational in emails to Christian friends and I am sending the book to the woman who was my kids’ Sunday school teacher as she just lost her husband. Keep up the awesome work! :)”
Wow. This brought tears to my eyes. It was just what I needed this morning. Sometimes, that’s all we need to create a positive shift in our lives–a sign that we’re doing okay despite what’s in front of our very limited point of view.
Earlier this week, I spent several hours working on a project that I thought was going to better someone’s life. I put so much energy into it and got back a lukewarm, thanks but no thanks. I was frustrated and even angry. I had to take a step back and remind myself that I can’t change other people. I can’t make the horse drink water, right? All I can do is remember what was told to us in 2 Chronicles 20:15, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” When something is not within my control, when I have no choice but to sit back and watch the train wreck, I must remind myself of one of my all-time favorite mantras, Let go and let God.
Sometimes, that’s so hard to do, but I know that it’s necessary. Psalm 18 tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect.” We have to trust Him and His plan even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or what’s around the bend in the road.
I’m on a tight deadline this week. I have several projects that must get done, and I’m scrambling to complete them. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I feel as though the track is out between here and there! I don’t know how to navigate the path so that I can complete this leg of the journey. How often do you feel that way? Like there aren’t enough hours in the day, like the whole world is conspiring to thwart your efforts? It’s maddening!
When all I can hear in my head is,
“Finish these edits.”
“Write that newsletter.”
“Prepare for the first day of Bible Study before it arrives!”
“Complete the project you started in the house.”
And so on and so on…
I need to strain to hear the other message, the more important one, the one that Joshua had to learn: “Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
I need to take a deep breath, remind myself that the world will not end if my garage is not clean or if those textbooks aren’t listed on Amazon until next semester. They will get done when they get done.
In my book, Island of Miracles, Father Darryl talks about our lives as a an impressionist painting (borrowing from something I heard from Bishop Robert Barron). We can only see the dots, but God can see the whole masterpiece.
I’ve come to have my own take on this (and will probably use it in a future book). I like to think of our lives as part of a great tapestry. We can only see the threads. They don’t always make sense to us. Sometimes they become knotted. Sometimes they break. In some places, the colors run together or the picture becomes blurred. But the threads are all woven together with other threads, with other lives, to create a masterpiece. We don’t always know why things happen, what is waiting around the corner, or how our lives will impact and be impacted by others. What we do know is that we have to go on doing the best we can, working hard, and trying to reach that light at the end of the tunnel. There will be times when the train will derail, when there will be obstacles in the path, when we are delayed pulling into the station. We just have to remind ourselves that God is the conductor. He has promised to those who follow Him that “in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).
As I’ve said many times, life is short, and we are faced with detours and road blocks every day, but it’s how we handle those road blocks that count. It’s how we live our short lives that matter. It’s remembering to put our trust in our Creator, to hand Him our burdens, to always follow His path, to accept that we are not perfect, our ways are not perfect, our efforts may fall short or fall on deaf ears. It’s looking for those moments when someone tells us that something we did was “amazing” and allowing that to sustain us through the not so amazing times. And it’s knowing that we’re all working on a masterpiece despite the broken threads and blurred colors.
When you’re discouraged or feeling overwhelmed, recall this piece of advice from a great man and role model, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Order your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).