Where is Joy?

(NOTE:  to the few blog readers I have left, thank you for bearing with me and praying for me.  This is a difficult time in my life … thank you for listening while I work through things to find God’s answers to my questions.  One day, I will write happier, more care-free posts, I promise!)

I have struggled with joy probably my entire Christian life.  While I understand the concept of “joy” versus the concept of just being “happy”, the joy still often seems elusive.
I have taught enough children’s lessons to know that JOY = Jesus, Others, and You.  I have sung a ga-billion choruses of “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy – down in my heart!” – and “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” happens to be one of my favorite hymns.  In my selfishness, I forget that JOY doesn’t revolve around me and my circumstances – it is dependent #1 on JESUS.

In 2008, right before the school year began, and I was desperately holding on to the little bit of joy I had left in my heart about having to accept another year of working instead of doing what I really wanted to do:  stay at home and take care of my family.  So, I wrote down all the verses in the Bible with the word JOY in it.  While I knew some people suffered far greater hardships than working in a ministry that was sucking the energy out of me, I still felt a little joyLESS.

The Bible speaks often of joy in sorrow, joy in tribulation, joy in the midst of trouble.  God did give me my joy back – in the form of finding out I was pregnant 4 years ago … and allowing me to work from home later that year.  But joy through a person is a temporary joy.  No man, no child can be depended on like knowing the infallible, perfect Jesus.

I once saw a Christian counselor because of some of the anxieties I was having after the birth of my second child.  It wasn’t post-partum depression, he determined, it was anxiety due to a lack of truly understanding God’s character.  After several years of infertility treatments and being given low odds of ever conceiving a child, I had not only ONE but TWO children.  I felt unworthy and was sure that God would take one of my children because I didn’t deserve them.  I was in a really messed up place.  Instead of being happy about my babies, I lived in constant fear that one of them would have a fatal accident or be diagnosed with a childhood disease.  I had no joy.  I didn’t understand my loving Heavenly Father at all.

I have come a long way since those anxious days, but I still sometimes forget that God is good and has only good in mind for me, even in hard days and through painful lessons.  For some reason, I falsely thought of a God as a harsh Judge for a long time, One who doesn’t give undeserved blessings (which is ironic because salvation itself is a FREE GIFT – Ephesians 3:5-6; Jesus died for us while we “yet sinners” before we ever knew we needed Him nor loved Him for His sacrifice).  From childhood ideas, I just thought I didn’t deserve much of anything because I was not good enough.  Obviously, I still struggle with the “good enough” sometimes…

The reason I am coming back to this concept right now is because my life is – once again – feeling a little joy-less.  While I’m so blessed to be home-schooling my kids, enjoying relatively good health, my husband is employed, and we have just seen God do some amazing things in the last year, I just feel like life is one hard day after the other.  There are no breaks from the kids; there are tasks that need to be done to get this house ready for market that I just can’t do by myself; I am also working through all the emotions that come with closing up a chapter of my life in a way I never thought I’d have to, and I am praying for some friends who carry far heavier burdens than I am right now.  Life just doesn’t seem fair.  (there, I said it! spoiled brat that I am.)

I’m learning to not dwell so much on the emotions … and yet, GOD gave us emotions.  He wants us to feel, to laugh, to cry, to mourn, and to dance (to everything there is a season … book of Ecclesiastes).  It is the getting stuck there that is wrong.  Sometimes it is time to LET GO.  I’m not very good at that.  But I’m working on it.  The counselor I saw so many years ago calls it “situational depression”.  And right now, there are definitely plenty of things about my situation and that of a few of my friends that seem heavy and depressing.

joy pic

So, I won’t end my post there.  I do have HOPE.  The future is bright – this season will end, and we will be OK.  Saying good-bye and ending things is hard – just like cleansing a wound is painful but necessary for healing.  (I can relate to that as I have 4 blisters right now!!)  We will be happy again, together, as a family.  This house will sell in God’s perfect time.  The children will adapt to their new home … our family will survive.  There will be JOY – in fact, there is JOY.  I just need to hang on to it and never let it go.

choose joy

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6 Responses to Where is Joy?

  1. Tanya says:

    **Just now getting to read your post!

    I will be praying for you, Friend. I, too, can struggle with this as times (especially in recent times!!). I try to rationalize and lecture myself about people being worse off than I am, but I don’t think it changes the present we are in. Life is hard (and I don’t think being the age we are — hormones going out of whack and all — really helps that much. Ugh!!), and I know the Lord Himself experienced times like these (exhaustion, rejection, weariness, etc.).

    I don’t have any answer other than to cry out to Him and continue to ASK others to lift you up. I know when you share, it reminds me that I am not alone.

    Wish I could hug you in person!

  2. Laura says:

    I hope your move to Arkansas goes well. It’s a wonderful place to live! I’ve lived in Northeast Arkansas for 13 years, and love it. I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading your blog, and I am glad that you continue to write through the hard times. God will bring you through this, and you will be stronger when you come up on the other side. I know how hard it is to pick up and leave a place where you have deep roots. It’s upsetting thinking about everything you’re leaving, feeling like your trading your whole life for a new place where you don’t know anyone. It’s tough, but hold strong to your faith. God has a place for you in Arkansas like you can begin to imagine. There are new hearts waiting to be touched by the awesome that is YOU! God’s got a place cut out for you. have faith and keep your chin up! I’ll be praying for you and watching for new blog posts!
    -your bloggy friend from Arkansas,
    Laura

  3. babstig says:

    Beautifully written. Love you!

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Dackel says:

    Connie, I could have written this post about feeling quite joyless right now. And at times I have little hope. My bout with cancer and the scars that remain have left me falling into a terrible depression. I struggle. I pray, often to God. But at times I feel he is busy elsewhere. I struggle with not understanding how I got here and hoping that very soon God will shine his light on me.

  5. Fellow believers are there to exhort, encourage and uphold one another. So…know that I am praying for you!

    You ARE in a hard place. My husband has been traveling 3 weeks out of every month and I’ve shouldered the burden of single parenting, too much cooking (’cause who’s going to relieve me?), and maintaining our farm – all outside and inside chores. I’m tired, discouraged and wake up with a to-do list that I know will never get done. I pray for rain to hold off so I can use the tractor to mow and I pray for the rain to come so I don’t have to mow. 🙂 You’ve added home repairs, traveling back and forth to see Daniel, living in that limbo place between belonging and not. So…I truly do get it. We’ve moved 19 times in 24 years. I really get it. 🙂

    But…I do have a little exhortation and a lot of encouragement for you, as well. First, joy is hard to grasp and hold onto just by memorizing verses and singing songs as mini-sermons to ourselves. Trust me, there’s certainly NOTHING wrong with those two things, but joy comes from focusing on the Lord and all His blessings. Maybe before bed each night you should write down a few things that you can thank the Lord for so that you see He how He walked through your day with you (not just things, but wisdom and strength.) It’s what you think on that changes your heart. When you’re down because of circumstances (tired/lonely/frustrated/bored/angry…) just stop and say, “Lord, what can I be thankful for right now. Joy comes from realizing that He never leaves you and never forsakes you! Or you can even ask, “Help me to see You in this!”

    Because Mark has been traveling so much I have chosen some verses over the last months to memorize.

    Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because He delighted in me.

    He doesn’t see you as not good enough or good enough; He sees you as redeemed. You stand spotless before Him because Christ’s sacrifice covers all your sin. In your position as His child, He sees you as perfect and He delights in you! That’s a tough one for me too, but He sees me covered by the blood and He is pleased!!

    Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Where is our joy full?? 🙂

    Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

    He rescues, he delights, he shows us the path, He fills (not just gives) us joy and pleasures, He mightily saves us, He quiets us and He sings OVER us. Wow! Joy comes easily in the midst of hard times when we see Him and all that He is. He will carry you!

    I wanted to write all this (whew, it’s long!) to encourage you. I don’t want you to feel down because you shared where you are. You blog like you’re talking to a good friend on the phone. I love that! I’m just on the other end, helping you to remember that with HIM nothing, even finding joy, is impossible. More than likely some day you’ll do the same for me.

    Not a sermon, just a thought! 🙂

  6. melanie says:

    If wishes were horses, this beggar would ride on down there for a quick visit in person!
    {{hugs}} to you, dear friend! I’ve been reading as you post, just not always able to comment 🙂

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