Taking Joy Back
Earlier this year I wrote about the joy I have in Christ. Since that blog it has seemed that joy thieves have been in every corner, every threshold and in many of my thoughts. Now hear this! Be on notice…YOU CANNOT STEAL MY JOY.
The reality is that I have been distracted and I have let the enemy too close to camp. And over the last couple of months my joy, my peace and so many of the rights I enjoy as a daughter of God have been picked over by the enemy. How do I know this? It’s a sour word here and spiteful thought there. It is condemnation instead of conviction.
How does it happen? Why does it happen? It starts with not dealing with the enemy properly. Every time we accept something as “just part of life”, “a phase” or “something out of our control” we give a little ground back to the enemy. Lord, give me strength to not be that person any longer.
Seeking Whom He May Devour
If we are completely honest, the enemy usually does not have to do too much seeking to take a bite out of our lives. In my case it is usually a trifecta of circumstances. Holiday season, family, and letting emotions control me are usually the entry point. Since I was a teenager until last Christmas season 2016, the holiday season has been a struggle for me. I was about 15 or 16 when the holidays became something dark. There were a series of deaths in our circle of friends and in our family several hit my heart hard. I encountered my first real peer pressure from a boy I was dating. Although nothing happened the temptation was amplified by all the loss I encountered. That was also the point in my life when I realized the friction between my family. Friction between my Mom and her sister, friction between my Dad and his brothers. All the circumstances that create a minefield. It is also the first time I recall every seriously contemplating suicide. I don’t remember all the names of people we lost that year. I do not remember all the points of friction in our family. I remember a deep ache, the sense of loss and a depression that was unrelenting. This nasty feeling connected to another time of the year too. As I got older this same desperation attached itself to Mother’s Day. (That is a whole other blog.) Despite my attempts to better myself and “snap out of it”, loneliness, depression and hopelessness invaded.
I am not controlled by my emotions. I have peace in my heavenly Father that has delivered me from the clenches of suicidal depression. When the enemy attacks my joy it almost always comes in the form of family, festivities or the emotions attached to family, work or whatever obstacle I am facing. God is good and sends us people when we need them most.
Baby Shower Meltdown
I am not a person who gets excited about baby showers and wedding showers. I love to celebrate, eat and be merry with the best of them – but there is something about the ridiculous games that unnerve me. (Not sure why absurd games do not irritate me in other venues – but it is literally just a shower thing.) Yesterday, I attended a baby shower for someone very dear to my heart. This young woman has impacted my faith in ways I cannot even express. I wanted to celebrate and be part of her joy.
I was late to the shower due to working yesterday. As things were shared and she began opening her gifts my heart started to sink. It had nothing to do with her or this lovely baby shower. (It really was pretty awesome as baby showers go.) My mind and heart were drawn to the circumstances of our family.
My son and his girlfriend are expecting twins in March. They are moving from West Virginia to Tennessee next month. With work demands, finances and everything else…I do not know when I will see my son or the babies again after they move. It feels like the opportunity to be a Grandmother is being ripped away from me…again. See my son was previously married and the woman had three little boys. No they were not my blood….they were my heart. I had a chance to be Grandma. To love on them and spoil them and then it was gone. Now the twins are coming. A month ago we were talking about baby showers and plans for the twins. Now they are moving away and those plans are dashed. I won’t get to rock the babies in the nursery or bond with them while they are little. I am not blaming anyone. I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty but frankly it breaks my heart.
As I watched this dear young woman celebrate her pregnancy, her family and her marriage…I felt the enemy take huge bite out of me. I excused myself and found myself in the bathroom crying over loss and frankly wallowing in a bit a of envy. I did not have the excitement and acceptance around the birth of my children. I was in a bad marriage and everyone knew babies locked me in deeper to that marriage. Concern and worry surrounded my pregnancies. I have yearned to be a grandmother and to experience that joy and expectancy vicariously through my children. Although a sweet girl, the mother of the twins is naïve, she does not take good care of herself and I question how she and my son will manage with two babies. My son is still maturing. I know he will love his children but how will he handle his priorities. Moreover, they are not grounded in faith and I know what that means for them as a family if they do not draw close to God.
A sense of panic, despair and pain wretched trough my body and flowed out in tears. I was trying to pull myself together when another lovely young woman from church asked if I was okay. (Clearly, I was not okay.) I briefly shared with her and she hugged me. This is the second time this same young woman has been there out of the blue. In both circumstances, I was battling with things I could scarce put into words. Her concern and that hug were just enough to put me back on my feet. (God even puts the right people together in the lady’s room.)
Romans 5:3-5 ESV
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Taking back my joy does not mean I am happy about the present circumstances. It does not wave a magic wand and cause everything to be my ideal. It does not mean the hard times cease to exist. What it means is I will give all of this to my Heavenly Father; after all, he handles it far better than I do. I have hope for a brighter tomorrow. (I have hope for blessings to let me see those grand babies before I think I can.) I have had my time of suffering and yes I am certain I will have more of this to work through, but I endure. God’s love and mercy give the strength to face any obstacle.
I am still very much in the middle of a storm, but God calms his child.