One of my favorite things to do that I don’t do enough is laugh. And not just a giggle but smiling so hard your cheeks hurt and laughing so hard no sound comes out. Do you know what I mean? Isn’t a great feeling? I’ve heard people say that laughter is a universal language. I’d have to say that I agree with that statement. It helps us relax, feel comfortable and accepted.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a bad summer but it’s definitely been a summer for the books. I’ve gone through a lot of transition and readjusting my life. I have had to find myself in a new place. Find a church family. Find friends. This can be exhausting and disappointing when you expect things to happen faster than they are. One of those things that I have missed the most about where I moved from is the community. I have missed having people around that pushed me to grow closer to God. People that I could laugh with. People that I could cry with. That, has been my number one prayer after moving back to NC.
Well, I have recently started going to a new church and so that requires getting to know people. I put myself out there and I attended a small group. I was nervous to go so I invited one of my friends to be “the new person” with me. I can’t tell you enough how much I needed that night and every night after that. These people have become my family and those who I know I can confide in. I left such a wonderful community in South Carolina and a church that truly took me in so you can imagine my anxiety when I moved back and wanted to find the same thing. Funny thing is, this isn’t the same thing, it’s different but a good kind of different. God knew that I needed my church family in South Carolina at that time in my life and then He knew what I needed for this time in my life and what I needed now was laugher. I have been still healing from a broken relationship and I needed support but most importantly I needed to have fun again. I needed to be reminded of how many great things that the Lord is doing in my life and what better way to do that than with friends and laughter.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I have always grown up with cats but I came to the point where I wanted a dog. I thought they would be fun and a great companion. I dreamed this imaginary lifestyle in my head of the magic a dog would bring to my life. This past week I found a dog that I liked and seemed sweet. However, after I adopted him it became very clear to me how much work a dog can be; especially compared to a cat. It wasn’t just the work but his personality was work because he needed some special training that I wasn’t aware of before hand. The ending of this story is sad because I had to give him back to his foster home. I knew I wouldn’t be happy so I went with my gut. I learned the hard way that adopting a pet shouldn’t be taken lightly. This dog’s personality didn’t fit with my personality. It was hard. I didn’t like any minute of it.
Something that I’ve struggled with is looking at other people’s lives in life in person or people online that I didn’t know and wishing I had what they had. I would wish I had a certain style of fashion. That I had their breed of dog because they made it look fun and cute. That I had their body. The list goes on. I have tried to fit my life into someone else’s a that’s not right. I have my own life and I am made to have certain things based on my lifestyle and personality.
Sometimes what you think you want isn’t what you actually need. Maybe I will get a kitten instead of a dog and that’s just how I am made-a cat person. I can’t force myself to be a dog person if that’s not my personality. I can’t be a doctor because I’m squeamish with blood, wounds and illness because God created me to love people in a different way. I can’t force myself to have a certain style of clothes because I just have my own taste, a type of musical interest, or even a type of guy. So, I ask the question:
How do I know what’s right for me?
I’m at the point in my life where I am trying to fit into who God made me to be. I’m out of college and now in the real world. I don’t know what I need. I was challenged by a friend who trains dogs to make a list of qualities and characteristics that I would like in a dog and that way I can filter dogs easier. I have decided to take this challenge a little deeper. I am asking myself the question of what other lists in life do I need to make? This is why personality and strengths quizzes are so popular. We don’t know who we are and meant to be. Now, a quiz can tell you a lot about yourself but I believe that the only person that can tell you who you are and meant to be is God. He made me and you!! I am going to make lists for different aspects in my life and then take that list before God and pray over it. It’s a list of things that I think I need/want but then I’m allowing God to whittle that list down or change it.
Throughout the Bible there is this command to be joyful even in the midst of hard times. In the Old Testament with the Israelites and then in the New Testament Paul instructs believers time and time again to rejoice and be glad. Now, it’s easy to say that we are joyful in the good circumstances but when our life take a turn for the worst so does our state of heart.
It is SO HARD to do this. It’s hard to be joyful when life throws me a curve ball. It’s so hard to be joyful when I want to focus on my current situation and try and figure a way out instead of focusing on God who’s already got it figured out. This is the difference between biblical happiness and joy. Happiness comes from our circumstances while joy comes from the Lord. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
This is joy. This is contentment. This is trust.
I think I have said before that I don’t like to “grow where I’m planted”. I like to think ahead to the next step. To the next thing that is going to happen in my life. But when I do this, I miss out on the beautiful things that God has for me here in this moment. When I do this I’m saying that I’m not content with where God has me right now. That there is something wrong with the circumstances that my life is in. I’m always looking for a way to improve where I’m at not thinking that where I’m at can be great if I focus my attention and state of mind on God and not my circumstances. I am learning that as I am shifting my focus toward God and his glorious riches He has for me right now, I see my complaining slowly die and I start to rejoice even though I may be hurting. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I love where I am and who God is making me into. I have joy in that. Yes, my circumstances will cause me hurt sometimes but as long as I keep my focus and faith in God, I will always have joy!
A prayer that I saw my favorite Lysa TerKeurst post on Facebook recently,”God I love you. I don’t love this situation. But I love you. Therefore, I have everything I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and will walk through until I get to the other side of this. I trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.” This is a gut-honest prayer. I love it! I will have joy in Jesus Christ even though I may not love my current situation. This is true joy…not happiness.
I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, is the most precious thing in all thinking.