That Dirty Rag of Discouragement

That Dirty Rag of Discouragement


I have been stuffing that old nasty rag in my mouth lately…

Ya know the one?

The one that is drenched in those toxic vapors that radiate all kinds of discouragement and defeat.

It tastes awful.

I hate when things don’t go my way.

But life is a lot about things that simply don’t go our way.

Dreams crushed. Finances strained. Relationships torn. Diseases diagnosed. Losing that job. Marriages failed. Infertility. Loss….

Pick your poison.

Life doesn’t go our way- often.

So that old rag…

It’s soiled in the weight of life’s disappointments and how they smell of rotting defeat. It can choke us, if we choose to shove it further down so deep it reaches and takes hold of our hearts. It can suffocate the very life out of us.

I’m certainly not ‘there’, but I am chewing on some mighty tarnished threads these days.

So while gnawing ferociously on one giant bite of this fabric, I head off to get an MRI on my ankle. (Stay with me.)

I sprained it back in August, and it never healed. How you ask?

While visiting my sister’s beautiful home, we played a good ol’ game of t-ball out on her front lawn. The perfect summer day for a game and the perfect players chosen for such a thing… us and our kids. I carefully plotted around all the divots in the yard using additional orange cones, so I wouldn’t “Sprain my ankle” and as I was running into first base off a great hit (can’t really remember the hit, but I need some kind of redeeming grace here) my foot caught one of those undetected divots and I went down.

Well played, irony.

So after months of sharp pains, pulsating aches and lingering pinches I finally went to the doctor. Hence the MRI.

While driving there, I was officially gagging on that rag after receiving more bad news.

Getting comfy on the MRI bed, I put my headphones on to listen to my chosen ‘playlist’ they nicely offered me to drown out the blasts of sound attacks. I chose Worship Music, thinking Lord knows I need it.

(Seriously- He knows I need it.)

And as the thundering assault of sound began and the waves of reverberation startled my heavy heart, something entirely profound gripped my rag and tore it out- leaving me to gasp and inhale freshly formed air…

My mind flashed through the last MRI I had, the one checking for cancer. Then came the flood of thoughts of people I know and the ones I don’t, who have passed from the monster. I flashed through so many more poor souls who endure the grueling onslaught of treatments and pain and countless MRIs listening to these bombs go off as they lay still wondering what the images will find. I thought of the countless sick children, who must be terrified of this experience in a world where they barely escape fear.

And then the music started to play… with the rhythmic drums going off right behind it, barely allowing the song to be heard.

But, I listened…

And took in that palpable air.  And I knew.

This life?

It’s a gift.

Even the bad parts. The discouragement. The things that don’t go our way.

If we are here, even sucking on bitter moldy rags-

It’s a gift.

The valleys, the mountains, and each climb or fall in between.

Cherish it all. This life is to be savored.

Even the crappy parts that leave us gnawing on our rancid rags.


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  1. says

    That is how sometimes I view being Bridget’s mom. Overpowering and empowering at the same time. I am still finding my groove, so to speak. But it is in the finding that I discover exactly what she and our family are capable of.

    I hope the results come in soon and the cure is a relaxing beach vacation 🙂

    • says

      I will TAKE that relaxing beach vacation!!! LOL

      I just love how you said that about being Bridget’s mom. That is just so beautiful Kerri!! “But it is in the finding that I discover exactly what she and our family are capable of…” YES!!! <3

  2. says

    Aww, Chris I am saying prayers for you with the results and just for better days to come now. If anyone deserves and is worthy of all good things it is you my friend 😉

    • says

      You are such a LOVE Janine!! Thanks hun. SO much!! The ankle is just a stupid pain- nothing huge, this I know. But other things are not well, but I know deep within, despite hardship there is always always enough of life to treasure!! God really got my attention that night. Powerful. 🙂

  3. says

    Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to keep listing things that are lousy once we get started? I know that’s how my brain works. My Grandfather always said, “Remember…there is always someone worse off than you.” It doesn’t minimize what plagues us at any given moment, but it’s a perspective-changer.

    • says

      And sometimes I am choking on that rag so hard that it’s almost impossible to change my perspective! But there are times, like this one- where my heart cracked wide open to really understand the depths of this gift we have. Even IN our valleys… even in our grumblings and moans of despair and defeat. Cherish it all. ALL of it.

  4. Candice says

    Well said. Glad ‘perspective’ found you whilr listening to that loud machine. Let me know what test reveals about your ankle. So sorry you injured yourself like this at our home. Boo!

    • says

      God has a way of reaching us in the most unpredictable ways, doesn’t He? It was truly ‘heart-opening’… oh, how I love when He does that!! And yeah- can you believe this stupid ankle is still a mess? Ugh. Will let you know sis. LOVE you!

    • says

      I had you on my mind after I wrote this, Laurie. I just knew it would speak to your heart!! You are always on my mind and in my thoughts and prayers my friend… <3

  5. says

    I enjoyed my MRI (am I just weird?) cos it felt like being IN dubstep. It was pretty cool.

    You’re right though – we can get too hooked into our own misery and upsets and let it consume us, when we should be out there looking for ways to bless other people. That heals us.

    • says

      And even if we ARE in our own misery- we are feeling and living and experiencing something. There are hills and valleys in this life. And even though we can get stuck in our valley, our hearts can still embrace life while we are there. THAT is the gift we must choose to cherish. And just like that night, I found this amazing joy in the midst of discouragement. Joy in realizing my life (your life- our life) is truly a gift to treasure.

  6. says

    We are all so UTTERLY human, aren’t we? Damn it.

    Have your pity party. In fact, I’ll have one w/ you, dear.

    Yes, I’ve had a few in my days. Long ones.

    Anyhow… When I’m feeling really low, I think— ( NO! not that somebody has it worse off )

    I think, “This is not my Home! this is not my home. this is not my home.”

    Luvin’ you from MN. xx

    • says

      It sounds so cliche, but when it hits you hard and your heart opens into this profound moment of realization- yes, Beth. Yes it is all about perspective!! I just need God to use some thundering bolts from an MRI machine and a bit of Josh to change it. 😉

    • says

      OH Susannah!!! How you bless me so…

      No. I don’t really know that- and you raise me up to more than I can be with that precious encouragement!!!! Heart you more. <3

  7. says

    I LOVE that song, but haven’t listened to it in so long! You are so right my dear friend – this life is a gift. I have been drowning in busyness lately and just completely exhausted, struggling to keep up with it all. I have been forgetful of the gift. Thanks for the reminder!

    • says

      I know- that song immediately puts me in this ‘place of worship’… and being surrounded by the stale and sterile MRI room laying there with the thunderous pounding sounds going on behind it- God really got my attention. Cherish even the busyness my dear friend!!! Cherish it all… 🙂 XOXO

  8. says

    I love that song!
    Funny because I actually have dreams in which I’m literally sucking on a rotten tasting rag. I’m not kidding. I Hate those dreams. I now know they symbolize exactly what you describe – the poisons, the doubts, the bad voices.

    And yet, so many gifts in one life.

    • says

      Oh wow T!!! Really? Isn’t THAT interesting… hmm… wow. Even the poisons and doubts and bad voices are part of the entire big tapestry of this gift we call life. I am just learning to cherish even those parts.

  9. says

    This was exactly the post I needed to read right now. I have been in a little slump (for so many reasons all of which are petty!!!).
    Even though I know it (and remind myself daily), my life is great and I should focus on how great it is and not the little down things.
    And, I love that Josh Groban song!!!

    • says

      You and me BOTH sister!!! lets cherish it, shall we? And cherish to me, doesn’t mean forcing ourselves to be ‘happy’- it simply means realizing even the crappy stuff/petty stuff/hard stuff etc. is part of this gift.

  10. Emily says

    So true! And just what I needed to hear, been chewing on my own nasty rag for sometime now. Hard to look at it as a gift, sometimes. Thanks Chris!

    • says

      I LOVE YOU EMILY!!! It is SO hard to realize this life is a gift, especially when you feel weighed down with so many heavy burdens and layers of stress and unresolved ‘stuff’. But the truth is- we still can embrace it as a gift. Even in the weight of it all. XOXO

  11. says

    Wow….each climb or fall in between…..I love that line! I love how you use the analogy of the dirty rag…..such a good, tangible way of thinking about this! A nice reminder to praise him in all circumstances…..we were never promised perfection, In fact, we were told to expect trouble. Thanks for this.

    • says

      And trouble there will ALWAYS be! Although there are times that I didn’t want to “praise him in all circumstances”- I am blessed when He calls me STRAIGHT to Him during troubling circumstances! Sometimes it takes the loud thunder of an MRI and the inspiration of Josh to get my attention! 🙂

  12. says

    Hi Chris! How I love this song, and the way Josh Groban sings it. I am listening to the video as I write this…heaven!
    That whole rag analogy had me gagging a bit! LOL! Very vivid in my mind.
    I am so glad that God sent you his healing insight to relax during your MRI. (I hope whatever upset you on the way to the test worked out ok?) He always knows what will bring peace.
    Our lives are so important, I know I’ll never fully understand that truth. The more I am ready to be used and to be a blessing, the more he can use me for others. Just like you are doing here.
    I really enjoy your writing style Chris,

    • says

      OH thank you so much Ceil!! I was really beat down- just too many things gone wrong and I was feeling incredibly defeated. NOTHING has changed- still some hard things (Finances mainly) but HE changed me. I am blessed. I truly am blessed. The rest will work itself out in time, and even if it doesn’t? I’m still BLESSED. That feels like peace… impenetrable peace. Perhaps? “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” <----- That kind of peace is what I am talking about. 🙂

  13. says

    Whoa. You took my breath away! This was so beautifully honest and encouraging. You are such a precious soul! So sensitive to the Holy Spirit. You are gifted, my friend–thanks for sharing that gift!

    • says

      Oh Karmen!!! I just absolutely LOVE that you get it- you get me!! You get GOD!!! This moment was big. It turned my entire perspective around, and I cried writing this late that night in retrospect. It was an amazing breath of movement through me by the Holy Spirit. You are SO right! I love how God can use ALL circumstances to reach us!

  14. says

    Life is a gift. I fully agree. I also know that God understands when we struggle to see that with our mortal perspective. Thank you for sharing your perspective and giving a sweet reminder. Beautiful.

    • says

      Thanks Elizabeth!! It’s so easy to feel that ‘pull down’ from life’s circumstances… I’m so grateful we have this personal and loving God who will stretch out His Hands and pull us back out. 🙂

  15. says

    I’m so sorry to hear about your pain, Chris! Praying for you, my sweet friend. This post is absolutely beautiful and so heartfelt! I remember when my son had 3 MRI’s over a year checking for a brain tumor. I was beside myself, but he had this incredible positive attitude. He would even say “I love my MRI’s!” He is inspiring, as are you :). Thanks for this reminder to be thankful for it all!

    • says

      Oh Candace, I cannot imagine how terrifying that must have been for you!! What a beautiful thing to read about your precious son!!! I love that children have such a strength and inner joy that cannot be stifled! What a huge blessing for a worried mama!

    • says

      It’s a tricky thing, discouragement! It seeps in slowly sometimes and all of a sudden it grabs hold completely and tries to take us down. I am so thankful for those moments where God opens our eyes and says “LOOK AT THIS LIFE! YOU ARE BLESSED!”

  16. says

    I know that discouragement well, and some mornings it’s hard to get out of bed because I wake up with a feeling of dread. It’s wonderful to read your words of encouragement and to know I’m not alone!

    • says

      You are so NOT alone Ginny!!! Life is HARD. We are human. Not the best mix! I just thank God for somehow pulling me toward His Perspective which helps tremendously… HE raises me up. Sometimes, I’m surprised at all the ways He does that. 🙂

    • says

      Exactly Michele!! And when we take our eyes off of Him, I just love that He pulls me right back. Sometimes it takes MRI bolts of sound and powerful music to do the trick. 😉

  17. says

    Oh I just love that song!!! It makes me weepy Every Time.

    It was a rough week here too… danger. so. close. my friend’s mom having surgery to remove cancer the very same day. Insert rag. choke.
    Captain America’s shield is broken in the Avengers trailer.
    Captain America is very important to me.
    He’s THE hero. I got sads.

    But today I remembered as I watched the people gather along the Highway of Heroes.. saluting a fallen hero making his final journey to his resting place: there is beauty everywhere. There are people who live, laugh and love with us along this grand adventure called Life.
    But mostly: I too have a shield!
    and He’s unbreakable.

    • says

      AMEN SISTER!!!! So beautifully said, dear friend. XOXO Praying for you and your friend’s mom!!! Danger lies lurking everywhere… it’s terrifying really. But as you said- our God is UNbreakable. We have His shield always… 🙂

  18. says

    I understand what you’re saying here. When we feel pain, fear, defeat…we are still living. And I know life is a precious gift that can be taken so unexpectedly. I want to soak in all life moment’s. Let them reverberate down to the depths of my heart and teach me the lesson that is no doubt hidden in there somewhere. Wishing you many blessings, Chris!

    • says

      And don’t you know it, my dear friend. Don’t you know it. Oh, how I love that you are living the best parts and I know they will continue for years to come!!

  19. says

    Meeee! I’ve been dealing with this! I’ll admit it. Life’s been super frustrating for a while now. I’m just daily praying for strength to cope and stay encouraged.

  20. says

    Given I’m a hot mess these days myself, I second what Alison said above.


    Life is a gift. And all of the things in it that cause me grief on a daily basis is a gift. And Josh Groban is kind of hot. Just saying. xo

    • says

      I still think you are doing “Ilene” incredibly well, love. You KNOW I believe in you with every single fiber of my being. You will make it to ‘there’… you WILL. And even though you feel you may have used up all your strength… there is another well you have yet to tap into. I just know it. <3

  21. says

    Inspiring post Chris! It is SO hard to see the good sometimes when we stay bitter, and upset, and depressed. I’m always grateful for the little (and big) reminders to be grateful for everything this life has to offer!

    • says

      Sometimes I get lost in the muck of things, ya know? Then BAM- something pulls that rag out and I am breathing fresh gratitude. I’m so grateful for those moments.

  22. says

    Beautifully written! It i so easy to get choked up on discouragement–it comes and goes throughout the weeks, days, hours. But is all about perspective, which I *try* to change when it’s got a strong-hold on me. It isn’t always easy, but when you can remove that rag, oh how great it feels!

    Hope everything is ok with your ankle.

    • says

      I love best when I am choking on that rag and something remarkable happens unpredictably to tear it right out. Just like this… Sometimes it gets stuck, and oh, how that taste lingers!! I’m so grateful for those ‘aha’ moments to shift things so dramatically- giving me great clarity and gratitude. 🙂

  23. Tammy says

    I am SUPER guilty of sucking on said rags! S U P E R
    Thank you for bringing my thoughts and meditations back to how blessed I am to even have the breath to suck it in. I ask forgiveness for all I’ve spewed out – yuck. I know that in all things God works for my good…and all means ALL.

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