Where’s your JOY at?!

I’m going to be EMBARRASSINGLY HONEST with you guys right now.

I’ve been hurting and living in a season of disappointment for about a year now. And honestly I couldn’t wrap my mind around it all the way until now.

You see, I spent two years in prison. I lost my mom, and had a really bad breakup with the person I thought was “the one,” and was coming out of an addiction. Then Jesus found me.

And while I was still physically in prison, the shackles broke off of my mind, and I was freer than I have EVER been, all the while behind bars!

I had gained acceptance that things were not perfect, I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I had HOPE!

I knew that my Redeemer LIVED.

And I knew that He was with me, holding me, comforting me at every moment of every day.

But I unknowingly was putting my hope somewhere else, too.

I knew that I would get out. I reasoned that when I was physically free, my circumstances that I had left, the brokenness of my family, and other situations would be miraculously better, because I was saved now.

Right?!

I mean I know Jesus said that stuff about, “…in the world you will have tribulation…” but He wasn’t like for real, for real, right? I mean what’s the point in that?!

Once you have Jesus in your heart, nothing can go wrong, and if it does, it’s going to be short lived. That MUST have been what He meant!

So I walked out of the gates one day with this huge expectation of what my life would now be.

Only, it didn’t quite happen that way…

My relationship with my husband was better, but he still didn’t believe.

I prayed over him while he slept, I tried bribing him to go to church with me, I tried saying nothing at all and just walking out the “joy” of my faith in front of him…

He didn’t BUDGE.

Then I got a chance to work at a company, and this was going to be my FOREVER JOB.

I told everyone who would listen how God had blessed me with this amazing opportunity, and how wonderful it was… but a few weeks into the job I started to become depressed.

The culture was very stifling, and I cried on the drive home the day that my boss cussed me out, screaming so loud the entire building heard, because I had made a mistake.

Wasn’t this the job that God gave me?

Wasn’t this supposed to be the time that things really started to come together?

I made it about three months until some people had started to poke fun at my beliefs in a not so kind way.

I quit my “forever job.”

What was happening?

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to go.

And the more I thought about it, prison actually looked more appealing to me than the life that I used to want.

What was freedom if you were miserable?

I couldn’t pray. I was angry and bitter.

My loving nudges for my husband to come to church, turned into angry outbursts and huge arguments.

I started romanticizing the sin that had kept me in bondage for so long. I just wanted to feel any way other than how I was feeling.

The enemy is so GOOD at his job!

Slowly, my focus shifted from the fact that Jesus had delivered me of the shame and guilt of my past, to what the implications might be for my future. And when my focus shifted, I was instantly placing my faith on shaky ground.

It still blows me away how our minds can become confused about the true nature of God to the point that we end up setting ourselves up for heartbreak.

So, I wanted my joy back but how? I started thinking about why I was so full of joy when I was in prison.

I mean from an outside perspective, things couldn’t have been worse. I was literally in BONDAGE, but I felt so FREE!

Why?

And it finally clicked.

Everything had fallen apart around me, but there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to change it. I had no choice but to ACCEPT the brokenness around me.

That’s when my FOCUS shifted from what was wrong to what was right.

It’s so simple, but so profound. If I had had acceptance about the way my husband felt, I would have been able to give him GRACE, and not focus all my energy on trying to sway him.

And had I know that I really couldn’t change his mind by force, I could have found some peace and joy by pressing into Jesus instead of diverting my energy into trying to give him something he didn’t want.

There is always going to be some part of our lives that just isn’t the way we want it to be. There will be disappointment and there will also be joy. But no matter which we are experiencing, we have to remember that they both will eventually PASS.

But God STAYS THE SAME.

His love for us is not contingent upon the circumstances surrounding us. He is always available to us, no matter what we are facing.

When we start to focus on what God is going to do for us, rather than what He has ALREADY DONE, we run the risk of becoming disappointed, depressed, and deflated.

Remember when Jesus came to Peter walking on the water?

When Peter got out of the boat he was able to walk with Jesus on the water until what happened?

His FOCUS shifted to the waves! When our focus shifts to the storm in our lives, we SINK, just like Peter.

We have to fix our eyes on Him no matter what is going on. If we just hold His gaze, we can do the impossible!

Our happiness is not important, because happiness is always based on what is happening.

I would much rather have JOY!

Joy comes from within! It is like a truth that you know, and no one can ever take from you! It is the truth about what Jesus has done, about how much He loves us, and about the fact that when this moment called life is said and done, we will spend eternity with Him in paradise! FOCUS ON THE TRUTH!

My resolution is to remember that when I become frustrated with the circumstances surrounding me, to remember Who my joy is, Who my peace is, and Who gave me His love, AND  my prayer is that you can too!

God bless!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Christi says:

    It’s so good when we get it: Don’t copy the customs and behaviors of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 I wrote about this topic on my own blog in Mind Your Mind, Child.
    Wish you all the best. Yours is a wonderful testimony. Keep the faith.

    Like

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