Finding Your JOY

by | Feb 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Have you ever been in the middle of a situation and known that you needed to make a drastic change, yet had absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it?  Several years ago I found myself exactly there!

I was going through the motions of life without experiencing any joy.

I had a great job that I enjoyed.  It was rewarding and I was positively impacting the lives of the families that I worked with. I had a supportive family and friends, yet I found myself feeling empty inside.  I tried filling the void with relationships, food, material things and even medications.  I called myself a “Christian” but admittedly now, I was definitely not living my life for God.  I didn’t really know Him!  I was not talking to God or praying daily.  In fact, I only really prayed when things got bad.

On November 29th 2003, my life changed drastically in a matter of minutes.  I suffered a pulmonary embolism and died for twenty-three minutes.  Thanks to God who answered my desperate pleas to save me that morning and to the doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center that he placed in my path, I lived.  I spent month’s barely able to pray just thanking God for what he’d done for me.  I found myself with more questions than answers.  I started to question God and ask him why he saved me.  I knew that I certainly did not deserve to be saved and this really bothered me.  I decided that maybe God had saved me because there was some big thing He wanted me to do with my life.  Maybe I was going to save someone or cure cancer.  I began to obsess about what it might be and focus all of my time on my career.  I quickly became discouraged because that perfect job was not falling into my lap.  My discouragement turned into frustration and anger.  Before long I was resentful to God for “putting me through” such a horrible experience.

I was back to going through the motions of life again without experiencing any joy.

It took me years to find my “why”, my reason for getting out of bed every morning and doing life.  I had to take a long hard look at me.  It was scary and really uncomfortable, but let me tell you what I found.  Others cannot find your joy for you.  You have to find it yourself.  What I learned along the way is that I had no idea where my joy was.  I was very good at doing things and going places but when it came down to it, I would rush through the process just so I could mark something off my list.  It was more about completing a task than about experiencing anything.

As I looked long and hard at my jobs, my relationships, and my life, I figured out that I was not even sure what I liked.  I had been so focused on people pleasing and peacemaking that I had settled into a life of going through the motions and not really experiencing joy.

Yes, there were glimpses of joy, but not the kind of joy a believer should have.  I began spending time alone with God.  During my time with Him, I would read scripture and find comfort in His many promises.  I began to look for God every day in all that I did, whether I was doing dishes or walking at the park.  It is amazing what happens when you spend time with God.  Your attitude begins to change and your outlook shifts.  No, I never cured cancer or saved the life of someone in danger, but what I did do was so much more.  I became a wife, a mother, and a child of God who knows the value of her worth and understands that nothing anyone can do or say will ever change that.

If you are reading this today and you are feeling like you can relate, Please know that there is hope.  It’s never too late to change your circumstances.  Here are a few practical steps that you can take every day that will help you find your joy.

  • Spend time with God~
    Quiet time does not have to look a certain way. The only requirement is that you show up.  Trust me, God will do the rest.
  • Express gratitude to God and to others~
    Tell others what you are grateful for.  Experience everything you do to the fullest.
  • Forgive yourself and others for the past~
    Stop blaming yourself for the decisions you made and the circumstances you had no control over.  Decide right now that you are going to move forward knowing that you did the best you could, given the circumstances.
  • Stop worry and negative self-talk~
    The bible has over 365 verses on worry and fear for a reason.  Find some that work for you and memorize them for those times when you need to be able to say something out loud to stop your mind from going somewhere bad.
  • Take care of your body~
    Eat healthy, get enough rest, and exercise.  Our bodies need fuel, and what we put into them does matter.  Not only does sweating during exercising purify our bodies, but it also releases endorphins which help with mood.
  • Laugh more~
    Laughter releases endorphins and helps decrease stress levels.  Learn to laugh at yourself. It really is the best medicine.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog today.  I would love for you to leave me your thoughts and comments.  I will leave you with one of my most encouraging verses about worry from the bible.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace.”

Philippians 4:6-7a NLT

God bless!