Joy 360 continues with a guest post by Sarah Wilson of Lattes Laced with Grace because who doesn’t want or need more grace in their life? Sarah’s gentle words strike a much the much deeper core and it has been a pleasure to get to know Sarah over the past couple of months through Redbud Writer’s Guild! I hope you enjoy her encouraging words today and please, take some time to stop by her site where you’ll find the creativity spilling over far beyond words on a page!
When troubles, trials or tribulations cross your path, is joy your natural response? I know that it isn’t mine. We probably all know that it isn’t what happens to us in life that determines our attitude, but rather it is our response to those events. If we are a believer, we also know that we are in a spiritual battle. ‘The devil goes around seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). Ann Voskamp talks about ‘preaching the gospel to herself’. And I for one really need to hear this message about joy. I consider myself to be content most of the time, but I’m also a realist, I’m a glass half empty person. God doesn’t promise us a world of roses and rainbows, but he does want us to walk in joy.It is our inheritance in Christ. I’m always reminded of what Joyce Meyer says: ‘Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to be miserable.’ What are some principles we need to apply to our lives if we are to walk in fullness of joy, despite our circumstances?
1. It is perhaps no secret that gratitude really does alter one’s attitude. Last year I completed Ann Voskamp’s acclaimed 1000 gifts series as part of a women’s group I attend. This was an exercise worth it’s weight in gold. As I began a list of 1000 gifts that I could thank God for I was able to see all the blessings that were in my life, the big ones, the small ones, and the ones I take for granted every day. Without being too Pollyanna-ish, I could give thanks for the comfort of a cup of tea. I could be thankful for a family to do laundry for.
2. Another key to pursuing joy is to get our eyes of ourselves. As blunt as that sounds, sometimes it can be our own self centeredness that robs us of joy. But we can put others before ourselves and choose to bless others with what we feel we are lacking. Maya Angelou wrote in her groundbreaking memoir ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ that
‘God put a rainbow in the clouds to give us hope.
We can be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud.’
3. Forgiveness. If you have young children you may be a little sick of the song ‘Let it Go’ from the popular Disney film Frozen! Yet the title of this song does have a life lesson for grown ups. We can’t walk in joy if we are carrying around bitterness and unforgiveness. Resentments and judgments against other people are like cancers in our heart, and they prevent us from coming fully into God’s presence. Sadly in this fallen world there are numerous opportunities every day to become hurt and offended, and we may need help from God to let them go.
4. If we want to journey towards joy we also need to know who we are. We can come to that place of resting securely in our identity in Christ. My husband has always told our children that they are his delightful daughters and son. It has really resonated with my eldest daughter, and she always tells me proudly that she is ‘Daddy’s delightful daughter.’ This has been a gentle reminder to me also that none of us need to strive or prove anything to anyone as we are His delightful children.
5. Sometimes the hectic pace of our lives can rob us of joy. But God wants us to live in a place of rest. He doesn’t want us running ourselves ragged. To become more joyful we may need to take an inventory of our schedule and see if we can slow down and smell the roses.
6. I’ve always liked to throw parties, but I must confess that I sometimes throw pity parties. Yet the only person who comes to our pity parties is the devil! Taming the battle in the mind is such a key strategy to walking in joy. We need to take captive every thought to the obedience in Christ. We can choose not to feed the negative thoughts, the lies and the imaginations. We can choose not to compare ourselves with others and we can ask God to help us to move past worrying about what other people think of us.
7. Choose joy. Did you know that joy can be a choice? God’s word says that ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’. (Romans 14:17). We can pursue righteousness, for we may struggle to find peace and joy without it. We can also catch a glimpse of His grace by looking up and fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
God’s word says that in His presence is fullness of joy. Every day we can meditate on God’s word and thank Him for His goodness. When life throws lemons at us rather than lemonade we can be confident that God promises us joy for the battle. If there are disappointments that we carry, or hopes deferred that have made our hearts sick, we can be reminded of His promise that He will repay us for the years that the locusts have eaten’ (Joel 2:25). Maya Angelou also said that ‘May we comprehend the peversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy’.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Sarah is currently a Director of Domestic Affairs by day and a blogger by night. She specializes in chaos management with her three young children but often feels that she doesn’t manage the chaos very well! In a previous life B.C (before children) she worked as a psychologist in health and in special education. Since her children arrived she has done a little teaching at the local university and she has opened a hobby design business called Gracious Design. She enjoys writing, creating, crafting and dreaming, and is a classical music and coffee enthusiast. Sarah writes about laced with grace living, faith, family and capitivating creativity on her blog ‘Lattes Laced with Grace’ (www.latteslacedwithgrace.com), and she is a regular contributor to NZ Christian Mum (nzchristianmum.org).