Tuesday, December 5, 2023

keeping your joy intact

 


Happy Tuesday, friends! I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've had on my heart for the last few months. For so many people that I know and love, this is the hardest time of year for them. I can somewhat relate, because of what I'm about to share. 


I haven't been feeling like the familiar version of my usual joyful self lately, and it really started to get to me after a few weeks. I had walked through something recently that I don't usually experience, and when I was praying a few weeks ago, it's like the Lord revealed to me that I'd been operating in my feelings, and not with Him at the center of thoughts and life. When I took my eyes off of the circumstance and put them back on Him, everything shifted. It was not an overnight change, and it's still not something that I've completely overcome. Each day I have a choice, though, and I am focusing on all that I can do to walk in the joy of the Lord that is my strength. (Are you singing that old song as you read that?) 


I thought I'd share some of what I've done to regain the joy that is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (The other fruits are love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.) 


First, I committed to spending time with the Lord each and everyday. There is no right or wrong way to go about this, but for me, I need to read the Bible and to use a daily plan. If I don't have a plan to go by when reading, I can't focus, and I am easily distracted. I jumped in with The Bible Recap community in October, and we've been reading our way through the New Testament. I occasionally miss a day or two here and there, but when I read like this, I try to not get too far behind. I like this plan because of the short podcast that accompanies each day of reading. 


Secondly, I pray often, all throughout my day. Do you know how hard it feels to pray when you're going through something difficult? It does. Some days I felt like I didn't have the words to speak out loud, so I wrote out my prayers in my journal. Other days I filled up pages with praise and thanksgiving to Him. Some days I just uttered, "Lord, You know my heart. Please be near." over and over again. Doing these two things is something that I've tried to be faithful in keeping up with, especially because it didn't feel easy or natural to do them. Even when I didn't feel like doing either of these, I did them anyway. I think that when we go by what we feel like or don't feel like doing, we're giving the enemy a way to attack us even more easily.


I also spend time listening to music that is worshipful. I have always loved how music that we sing is something the Lord uses to minister to our hearts, and there is no exception in this. There are a couple of songs that I love right now that I've had playing over and over on Spotify. One is The Goodness of God that Cece Winans sings. Another one is The God of Possible by Katy Nichole. One that we sing in church often is I Speak the Name of Jesus by Charity Gayle. These are songs that I can sing and pray in as I worship. 


I try to not think on things that are not of Kingdom importance too much. Meaning, I don't like to harbor all of the thoughts I've had rolling around in my brain. This is another thing that I have had to pray through, that God would not allow bitterness to seep into my heart. I don't want to complain about things too much, I try to not keep hashing things out, I had to stop reading and re-reading the texts, I had to come to the conclusion to let go of things and to simply move on. I also surrendered the whole thing to the Lord once again, and I asked Him to help me through it and to protect my heart. When we harbor things for too long, bitterness sets in, and our hearts can become hard and calloused. 


The last thing that helped me was to be around my people. These people are certain family members, friends who are godly and uplifting, and my church (and work!) family. I feel so fortunate to have such people in my life! They pray for me, they offer godly counsel and wisdom, they are generally there for me. I wonder if this is part of the reason why the Lord has me working where I do right now. I'm so grateful to have my job, and to get to see such wonderful and godly people daily. He knew that I would need them in this season of life. 


Thanks for reading into my heart today. I promise when I share things like this, that I am not fishing for sympathy. I know you'll probably still offer it to me, and I'm thankful for that, but I share things like this because we are all human, and we all go through things. You literally never know what people are going through in life! I am certainly not perfect, and I've had more than my fair share of major mess-up-moments, but God is good, and His grace and mercy are something He gives to us in abundance. As we receive those from Him, so are we to also extend them to people! I have to remember this and I often pray that He helps me with this. Life is hard sometimes, but for those of us who are believers, it is never without hope. I think that's why I love the lyrics to the song above; to have hope in Jesus offers a thrill to tired and weary hearts. 



Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 

12 comments:

  1. I will be praying for you that you continue to be able to be on a better path. I think we all go through this kind of thing but it seems that you saw what was wrong and righted your path? Please don't be too hard on yourself and give yourself grace. I think by sharing it you are helping.

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  2. Thanks, Amy! I think we all go through things like this too, especially when we walk through something that is hurtful. I think I'm in a way better frame of mind now that the Lord showed me some things, but not everyday is successful in remembering all of that. This, and all of life, is just a giant work in progress, and walking through things that refine us and make us who He intended for us to be. I'm always thankful for praying friends, and for the grace and mercy of God! And like you said, grace is for us to give to ourselves as well. Don't we as women beat ourselves up over things??

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  3. Just putting these words down helps more people than you know- thank you for sharing- great reminders that I needed too XO

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  4. I sooooo get this. I don’t know why this particular holiday season is so hard, but it is. It’s been weighing on me heavily as well. Saying a prayer for you and I’m glad you posted this. I needed to read it today.

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  5. Holly, you are so right! Just writing it all out helps. I think we all need these reminders from time to time. Life can be so hard, difficult, and messy!

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  6. Thank you, Mandy! I know so many friends who are also struggling with the weight of everything right now. It's interesting how certain years are so different. I'll pray for you too, my friend!

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  7. Thank you for the reminders to continually pray and stay on Jesus’s path for our lives. The busyness and even fun things of the season can take away our focus on the birthday of Jesus. Praying for all of your readers to keep Christ in Christmas and in our focus each day of the new year.
    Blessings Jennifer. I enjoy reading your blog.
    Christine

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  8. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post. I know I can relate, as well as many others. I try to have a joy filled heart, but there are times when loneliness and discouragement can set in. Thank you for the reminders to turn to God's word, even when we don't feel like it. When I don't know what to pray, I say "Not my will, but yours." sometimes over and over as I walk, like in a rhythm. As Amy said, give yourself grace and time. Hugs, friend!

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  9. Thanks for sharing today friend. Those songs you have on repeat have also been a balm to my soul this year. There is power in music! "A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices"....may we rejoice in our weariness.

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  10. Christine, I agree with you in prayer for those things! Thank you for your sweet encouragement, friend.

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  11. Thank you, Tanya! I think so many of us go through times like this, and I feel like I need that same constant reminder. I struggle with giving grace to myself, but you're both right. Thanks again!

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  12. Marilyn, you are so right! I am so thankful for the gift that music is to us. I know you feel the same! Love you, friend.

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