As we journey towards God who is our ultimate goal and a happy end of life, there are many obstacles that lay on the path of perfection. One of the most common obstacles especially for those committed to the life of faith is called DISCOURAGEMENT, a loss of confidence or enthusiasm, maybe even doubt that the path which I have undertaken can ever be completed by me. Discouragement usually comes as a result of a problem with our vision. The more we see our own brokenness, sinfulness, inability to overcome certain weaknesses in our spiritual life, the more discouraged we may become. How, then, can we overcome discouragement? The common misconception is that we have to overcome our sinfulness in order not to be discouraged by its effects in our lives. This may be easier said than done, simply because overcoming sinfulness and growing in holiness while at the same time being weighed down by discouragement may be too big of a task for most. There must be a way of lifting discouragement even in our sin afflicted reality in order to move towards holiness with confidence and enthusiasm. How can we do that? Simply by adjusting our vision to be in line with the vision of God.
In our spiritual life we always have a choice of vision, where to place our focus. The reality of those of us who have not yet achieved perfect union with God is this, we are a mixture of good and bad actions. Focus on the good, and try to increase the good by growing in virtue and you will slowly see that the bad will dissipate on its own. Just as two opposite realities such as light and darkness, life and death, heat and cold cannot coexist with each other but one always overcomes the other, so is the case with the good and the bad within us. If we allow the good to grow, the bad will slowly be overwhelmed. As we grow in virtues, sins cannot remain. A person who struggles with greed and who chooses to share his/her material goods with the poor on the regular basis will soon discover that greed has given way to generosity in his/her heart. A person who struggles with lust and chooses to look at every human person with chaste love of God will soon discover that lust has been replaced by chastity and charity. A person who is easily discouraged by their sins and chooses to focus on the good things in his/her life, on the joy of serving God and on the mercy that God chooses to offer us will soon realize how blessed he/she is and will find encouragement in his/her journey towards God who looks at us with love.
It is common that when we commit a sin we are often discouraged. When we are made aware of our sins it is then that we should humble ourselves with joy before the Lord and give thanks for His mercy. Focus on the positive, on forgiveness, on yet another lesson in humility and poverty, and move forward with joy that God has not given up on you. Be encouraged and stay positive, and God will be closer to you than you may imagine.
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma