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We can play a mean game of telephone with ourselves. My friend said it so well. We start with one single disappointment, little or big, and we tell it to ourselves again and again, each rehearsal of the hurt loosening the event from its real place and time and working it into the wiring of our minds.

The dream left behind in youth, the grief of barrenness, the postnatal hormones that take us to the edge of crazy, the practicality of family life clouding former romance, the arguments, the abandonment, the relative whose words tear down, the crumbling church and cold-shouldered friends, the messy nest, the frail body– any of these stories can twist in the secret conversation of our minds, turning fast from discouragement to despair, ending up a jumbled version of what we started with. But when we share out loud what’s been going through our minds, we open ourselves to real conversation, to words that keep the original hurt in perspective, to words that help us take heart.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been looking for hints on how to become a more cheerful giver, I’ve noticed my lack of resilience in times of discouragement. In those times, I desperately need others’ words to break up my own inner dialogue. It takes the people around me and it takes the Word of God. As my husband and I have begun reading through the Bible with the family this year, I’ve come across a phrase again and again, a phrase worth repeating.

“Take heart,” Jesus said to the paralyzed man lying on a mat, “your sins are forgiven.”

“Take heart,” He said to the woman with the blood disorder, “your faith has healed you.”

“Take heart,” He said to scattered friends wary of their future, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In each encounter, pain and guilt and fear could have been the end of the story. But then Jesus says, “Take heart.” Maybe your self-talk is so loud that you can’t hear Him saying this in your own situation, but when sisters share testimonies of His comfort in disappointment, of His miracle in impossibility, of His work in a troubling situation, we help each other stop the telephone effect.

This February, at Message in a Mason Jar, we will be talking about how to take heart in the context of life’s disappointments. Each week, we will hear the stories of at least two different women, including their walk through discouragement and despair and how Jesus met them in it, saying, “Take heart.”

On Tuesdays during the series, we’ll invite you to link up with your own Take Heart story based on the theme of the week (1- Growing a Family, 2- Romance, 3- Kinship/Community, and 4- Self-Care/Wholeness). On Thursdays, along with the story shared, we’ll offer fun and thoughtful giveaways that will encourage you to take heart in your own struggles.

{In what area of your life do you need to experience Jesus’ words, “Take heart”? How does your self-talk compare to His choice of words in these verses?}