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”This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24 NKJV
I’ll be honest, the past few months it has been a struggle to make it through the day without losing my temper, crying, or both. I’ve gone inward in my grief, and tried to shut out the world.
So far, in my darkened room this month, I’ve watched the first 4 seasons of Criminal Minds on Netflix.
When you are sad and depressed, Criminal Minds is probably not the show to binge watch, FYI.
I had just begun to process life without my Dad, when my Nana was diagnosed with lung cancer in January. Then I lost both her and my Papa in March. It sucks.
I love them. I enjoyed spending time with them. They were my people.
On top of that my grandparents were my security blanket in a lot of ways. Their home was always a safety zone for me. I lived there when I was a baby, spent summers there as a child, and lived there when I was unemployed.
It was my home base. I was there with my cousins for every holiday beginning with Papa Day (St. Patrick’s Day), ending with Christmas, and every random one in between. If life sucked I could go there and be safe. I went there on sunny summer days to play Scrabble with Nana on the Deck. I went there before blizzards to make sure they had what they needed. I went there just to hug them.
I not only lost my people, I lost my home.
Normally their house was where I went when life belted me, and now in the hardest loss I’ve ever faced, I can’t go where I’ve always gone for comfort.
I know I’m supposed to be comforted by Holy Spirit, and I am. If I didnt have Him, I wouldn’t have been capable of being there for them in their last days. I would have been weeping constantly and been of zero use to anyone. He is amazing. I still feel His presence and have the peace Jesus brings. But I still feel blah about life right now.
I don’t know how to move forward.
I don’t want to accept the new normal.
I want to sit in my darkened room and watch Criminal Minds.
I don’t want to miss them every day.
I don’t want to feel how much this hurts.
I don’t want to think about them not being at future events.
I don’t want my heart to hurt because it’s 4th of July weekend and there will be no cookout. There will not be hide and seek with my cousin’s kiddos in the back yard. The back yard is blooming with her flowers but she is not there. His yard has been mowed but not by him.
Death sucks. I’m so glad Jesus beat the crap out of death and was resurrected. I’m so glad Jesus is alive! Because it means I will see my people again…and they will be happy and healthy and free.
But it doesn’t change that I need to feel the feelings and deal with the waves of grief that are drowning me in sadness. Even though I don’t really know how to move forward, and I’m not sure I want to…I know I need to.
They loved me and would hate that I’m so sad that I’m wasting their favorite sunshine filled days in a darkened room.
I have no regrets. I was there with them when they left this world. That was a gift. I spent consistent time with them when I had them here. That was also a gift.
I could go on here about how sad I am right now and how many times I broke down crying while typing this…but that isn’t the point I want to make.
The point is that I will miss them forever at every event. That will not change.
I need to choose to feel those feelings and choose to deal with them. I need to choose continue to live my life, instead of choosing to hide out. I need to choose joy. Because the joy of the Lord is my strength. And I need that strength to get through this time.
Point to ponder while you wander…
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24
I believe that each day is a gift. Living this belief is a choice. Being determined to declare that no matter what this day brings I WILL rejoice and be glad in it. #joyisstrength
I had intentions of a completly different (and fun) song today, but I felt like I needed to post Because of You by Kelly Clarkson. The video is powerful, please watch it before reading on.
I have 2 words of encouragement today; one for the kids who feel this way and one for the parents. Both are encouraging so please keep reading, and remember there’s always hope.
Message 1: For the Kids
I understand the feelings behind this song. As kids, we suffered from our parents bad choices. Those choices may still be affecting you now. If that’s you today, I’m praying for you to forgive your parents and any other care giver who hurt you.
This forgiveness releases you from the bondage of the past. This forgiveness is so you can move forward and be whole. This forgiveness is the very thing Jesus was talking about in Matthew 6.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
If you hold on to this anger and hurt it becomes bitterness! That’s why Jesus demanded you to forgive others. Not as a law…but as a freedom for YOU from bondage.
Unforgiveness hurts you. Poisons you. NOT the person you’re holding a grudge against.
Please hear my heart here!
I watched someone I love dearly eaten alive by bitterness towards his father. And I’ll be honest, his hatred was justified. His father was a cruel man that came far too close to beating his mother to death. This is horrendous. No child should have to see that!
I also watched bitterness taint the most joyful, hilarious, and downright blast of a woman I ever knew. I watched this amazing woman age rapidly after she lost her joy. She became sullen, negative, and bitter. People began to avoid her, which multiplied the bitterness into cancer. And I lost her.
“A joyful cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.” Proverbs 17:27 TPT
Don’t let yourself be tainted. Don’t let yourself grow bitterness. Confess your anger and bitterness to God. Speak out loud that you forgive whomever your bitter towards, whether they are still alive or not. Whetherthey deserve it or not. And anytime that hurt/anger/resentment/disgust/sadness begins to rise…you say it again. And you keep saying it until it stops rising up.
“Eyes that focus on what is beautiful bring joy to the heart, and hearing a good report refreshes and strengthens the inner being.” Proverbs 15:30 TPT
God NEVER wanted you to be hurt or have a rough childhood. But people make choices that affect others. He DOES want to heal you. He wants you to be whole.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV
Please forgive so you can be free!
On an a personal note about my parental units…I love my parents, but they are flawed. They made mistakes and bad choices that handicapped me in some ways. But I have forgiven them for that crap, and moved forward into adulthood. I yearn to see them become all they were designed to be. When I forgave them, it felt like a million pounds was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. And for the first time I was able to love my parents right where they were at. I was able to see them clearly, with God’s eyes.
“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”” Ephesians 6:2-3 NLT
Message 2: For the Parents
“So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.” Matthew 12:31 (See also Mark 3:28)
You made mistakes as a parent. No one parents without making mistakes. You need to forgive yourself. I’m praying for you to come to the place where you choose to forgive yourself, even if you don’t deserve it.
If you are caught in a web of unforgiveness/bitterness for what happened to you as a child and guilt for repeating the cycle, please please please, forgive your parents and forgive yourself.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2
The man I mentioned above who hated his father became an alcoholic who beat his wife. He repeated the cycle. Years later, he refused to receive the forgiveness of his ex-wife and children. He refused to forgive himself. The guilt he felt about repeating the cycle became self-hatred and he died at a mere 60 years old. I lost him. It was a devastating loss of a man with the kindest softest heart, a generous people person, and a jokester who made me belly laugh more times than I can count. My heart broke that he couldn’t forgive himself, and couldn’t receive healing before he died.
If you’re reading this it’s not too late for you! Come to Jesus and confess your mistakes and receive His forgiveness and forgive yourself. You getting help and becoming whole is the best way to show your kids it’s possible. Healing is possible. Restoration is possible. Breaking the cycle is possible!
If there is a chance for reconciliation and restoration of relationship, you should offer an apology, without expctation. This could help THEM heal. But understand that they may not be ready or able to forgive you. That’s okay. You should still forgive yourself.
Even if you don’t deserve it, forgive yourself anyway. Even if the situation is bad enough that your children can’t or won’t forgive you, forgive yourself anyway. Even if they are repeating your mistakes, forgive yourself anyway. Then pray for them to repeat your good choices, to seek help and to forgive themselves as well.
Point to ponder while you wander…”Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from deathand crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” Psalm 103:1-5 NLT
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NLT
God loves you. He made you on purpose for a purpose and gave you the measure of faith you will need. Don’t compare yourself or your purpose to anyone else.
Comparison is a thief that will steal your joy, and therefore depletes your strength, as much of our strength comes from joy. In addition will do one of two things: puff you with feelings of superiority or deflate you with feelings of worthlessness.
If you see yourself as less than, you may not bother doing your best. You may not even try. You may think it brilliant to be a carbon copy of someone else. Your love for others may be replaced with envy and jealously or even loathing and hatred.
God wants you to stop trying to be someone else! You have value. You are loved. Your identity is in Him. He made you with care so that He can love you. He needs you to be you because you are vital and important, even if it doesn’t feel that way. The world needs what you have inside you.
If you are feeling superior because of your gifts, abilities, or position you are in danger of being puffed up with vanity and pride. Being puffed up steals your love for others and separates you from people. You may begin to speak condescendingly. You may feel entitled. You may begin to treat people poorly.
God wants you to know that He loves you and values you. He made you with care so He could love you. He entrusted you with these gifts to be a blessing, not to lord yourself over people. You need what is in others just as much as they need you.
Let God love you. Receive it so you can love God in return. The next step is to learn who you are in Him, therefore learning to love yourself properly and in balance. Then you are able to love others as you love yourself as Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:37-40
There’s a reason I Corinthians 13 (AKA the love chapter) is sandwiched between two chapters on gifts and abilities. Comparison is the thief of joy and the opposite of love.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
I will leave you with this…
Jesus never once compared Himself to anyone, nor did He say to any disciple, “Why can’t you be more like so and so?” God values us individually but created us to be a unified family. Comparison is a destroyer of unity in the family, as much as it is the thief of joy.
“Oh! May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope.” Romans 15:13 MSG
This verse may sound light and fluffy. But it isn’t. This verse is about real power.
Joy here is not happiness from external circumstances, but an inward calm delight that overflows into exceeding joy. Maintaining joy in the midst of turmoil and trials is how you are strengthened to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Peace here is not absence of conflict but rather peace in spite of conflict. This peace allows you to prosper no matter the circumstances. It gives you clarity in chaos. It prevents you from making choices out of anger and emotion.
Hope is about anticipation with pleasure attached to it. It’s about the expectation of good. God is the God of anticipation of good. He’s looking forward to filling you with joy. He’s looking forward to filling you with peace. Will you let Him? Will you receive it?
He is awaiting with pleasure the day you understand the power you have at your disposal and begin to walk in it. God wants to see you prosper as your soul prospers. This begins with receiving and learning to walk in joy and peace, with an expectation of good. That is true power right there.
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. ” Psalm 126:5-6
Letting go of the comfortable old for the uncertain new can be daunting and emotional. Even if it hurts, choose to remain open. Don’t let fear steal your future harvest!
There may be tears of pain and grief or even tears of frustration and exhaustion. Think of those tears as fertilizer and don’t let fear stop you! Remain open! Those tears are only for a season.
God does not want us to live sad little lives, bearly squeaking by. He doesn’t want us to be beaten down by circumstances and our enemies. He wants us to enjoy our lives even when they are difficult. He wants us to have peace that passes all understanding and joy unspeakable. He knows that when we remain in peace and maintain our joy, we are stronger.
In Nehemiah 8, the leaders were reading the Book of the Law to the people. The people realized they had been living against God’s law and they were grieved. The realization that you need to change the way you are living is good, but God does not want you to stay there and beat yourself up. Staying there makes you weak and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. He wants you to be in a position of strength.
Ezra and Nehemiah wanted the people to understand that the Word of God should inspire celebration and hope. Not dread and fear. They told the people that the joy of the Lord was their strength.
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Nehemiah 8:9-12 NLT
The Bible is a love story. It is full of stories about hope and joy. The Old Testament shows that God never gave up on the Children of Israel. He kept pursuing them even when they ran amok. When the Children of Israel pursued God, He poured blessing on them. But even when they turned their backs on Him, He never abandoned them. Not one single day. Were there repercussions for their poor choices? Yes. But when they came back to Him, He always received them. He didn’t reject or abandon them. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the love God has for people. We were the joy set before Jesus, that made Him willing to go to the cross. And He is our hope.
Knowing that God will never leave or forsake me, fills me with joy! Knowing that despite my past choices and mistakes, I am loved, fills me with joy! Even though my present circumstances are difficult, I’m not going through it alone. I will not be swallowed up. This makes me smile in the face of unemployment and not enough money to pay my bills. I am rejoicing that God will turn everything around for my good. This joy in the face of hardship, is the joy of the Lord.
Find a reason to rejoice today. That joy will make you stronger.
Worry. Stress. Anxiety. All 3 are a type of fear. The Word tells us do not worry, do not fear, and to be anxious for nothing. God desires you to have a life filled with joy! Not fear. So instead of freaking out, remember He loves you and “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18
It’s Monday. And I think that people need to laugh and smile more. So does Solomon. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
So if you are finding your strength waning in the midst of whatever it is that’s going on in your life, do something fun. Watch old sitcoms that are actually funny or some other comedy. Read a light hearted book. Take a walk or do whatever it is you enjoy that makes you smile or laugh. Start speaking positively. Make plans that you will look forward to and enjoy. Choose to find something joyful in your day. Be silly!