Hey there! Do you ever just feel kind of bogged down in the nitty-gritty of life? Just trying to make it through the day? Even as you’re checking things off on your to-do list, does it still feel like drudgery instead of accomplishment.
Is there any joy in all that doing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about joy this week as I am preparing to teach a Bible study this fall in my church. The study will be on the book of Philippians, a book about joy.
Joy. It’s kind of illusive at times, isn’t it?
Years ago, we were attending a rather legalistic church. The Bible was taught in this church, and as a young Christian, I was devouring the sermons and teaching. However, looking back, I see that the sermons stressed action, doing, and works, but rarely talked about feelings, love and motives.
As a young mother of 4 young girls, I was DOING; I was ACTING; I was WORKING. I was attending every church service — Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and you better believe if there was a Missionary Week, we were there EVERY single night. I attended a women’s meeting every Tuesday morning. Even if the girls were exhausted, even if I was stressed, even if other things were left undone. We were there.
Or we weren’t “good Christians”.
I was saved by grace, but living under the umbrella of works.
I remember feeling the weariness; I remember doing all the “right” things; checking off boxes on that list. One day, feeling stressed out and blue, I asked to meet with the wife of our traveling evangelist (they were home on sabbatical). This family was held in high regard in our church, and I admired this woman from afar many times. She was the mother of 5 children and taught Bible studies all over the country. She had it altogether, and I wanted her secret!
We arranged to meet in her small, humble kitchen over coffee. Uncomfortable at first, I finally explained to her that I was frustrated, weary and tired. I was doing everything that was expected of me and I felt worn out, used and — anything but joyful.
“I have no joy. Being a Christian is not joyful; it’s work!”
I don’t remember much more about the conversation. I only know when I left her house that day, I was overwhelmed with sadness. This woman had no idea what to tell me. She, too, was doing, acting, working.
And she had no joy.
Sometimes God has to MOVE us to enable us to see things differently. Nothing like a new perspective from a new perspective! A few years after that wife-to-wife encounter, our family relocated to Denver, Colorado. We left behind two “just-grown” daughters; we took two very unhappy daughters with us, a 7 year old and a 15 year old.
My life was a hot mess: I had unhappy children, trying to adjust to a new school, feeling lonely and betrayed. I think both girls cried themselves to sleep for the first 6 months. I had developed undiagnosed bronchial pneumonia and was sick for weeks. My husband was trying to adjust to a new job situation, and things were not going as planned in the office. I had no support system, but I was doing everything in my power to make this place home. I was scared. I was tired. And I was lonely.
And God had my attention.
The time in Colorado was challenging, but it was a life-changing experience, and I often refer to it as “the best year of my life, and the worst year of my life” (why we stayed only one year is for another post at a later time).
Tomorrow, and I’ll share how God took that lonely time in my life to change me forever. Join me here for, Finding My Joy, Part 2.