Finding Joy

For the last few months, i have been focusing on finding joy in life even when it feels mediocre. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been a feeling a lack of desire to spend time with God. To be honest I was in quite a rough place and going through some stuff that I was not dealing with well. Instead I chose to wallow in self pity which only drew me away from God. I have since learned to deal with my issues by first and foremost leaning on God and trusting that I can totally rely on him, even with problems that seem insignificant. I decided to write down some things I have done to help me have a more positive outlook on life and help me draw closer to God

1. Spending Time God

One of the easiest and simplest ways to grow closer to God is to just spend time with him. This looks different for every person and it can change with every season of life. For me, spending time with God means reading his word, memorizing and reflecting on it. This has not always been an easy thing for me to do.

Finding Joy these last few weeks/months has meant learning who God is and learning about his love for me. It has meant learning to trust in Jesus and to confide in him. There is no problem that is too small or too big for him. He holds me together when I fall apart. He is my refuge, my shelter and my protecter. He is my most trusted friend.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

[Psalm 94 v 19]

What I have learned and am still learning is that when I am filled with his truth, I cannot be lured away by the lies of the devil. When we choose to fill our hearts and minds with God’s word, his spirit works within us and fills us with light. One practical ways in which I am more joyful is that the days I choose to spend time with God, I think and feel more positively. Having a postive mindset can impact our day to day lives in remarkable ways. When I give my heart and life to God, I have peace. When I trust him with my problems, I have peace because he carries me and he promised to help me through.

Now it is easy enough to say “I should spend time with God more” but how do we actually do it??

2. Staying Motivated

A really simple tip for spending more time with God is TO MAKE TIME. MAKE time for him because there is nothing else more important. MAKE time because he is your life line. MAKE time because you have time. MAKE time because he is your priority, at least he should be. Establishing a routine has been a helpful way for me to do this. I read the bible in he mornings as I travel for work, a time when I am not busy or my mind is not occupied by other things.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

[Romans 8 v 28]

Another important part of finding Joy is to do the things you love. Now I am the kind of person who has lots of ideas about things to do and try, however I am not good at following through with these. I have spent the last couple of weeks making goals for myself that I would like to achieve and one thing that has really helped me to follow through with these is to start small. This has been a big help to stay motivated as my goals seem more manageable. Instead of throwing myself completely into something and getting overwhelmed, I have chosen to take my time to enjoy the process.

3. Discipline

Now this word I don’t like. Discipline. It is something I struggle with and have for the longest time but something I always strive for. Hebrews 12 v 11 perfectly sums up why discipline is so important:

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Having discipline is such an important part of being a Christian. We need discipline to prioritise God and other things that are important in our lives. I don’t know about you but I am constantly fighting against the urge to do other things such as watching up on TV rather than picking up my bible and listening to what God has to say to me. Making the right choices takes discipline, we have to work on it. Self control is after all one of the fruits of the spirit! (Galations 5 v 23).

As someone who tends to be ruled by my emotions more often than I would like to admit, having discipline means I cannot just quit or bury my head in the sand when I feel unhappy or when life gets unpleasant. Life would be quite chaotic if that was the case. Discipline has helped me find joy because it keeps me focused on a higher goal. When I feel down or stressed, focusing on the ultimate goal keeps me motivated.

Lastly, having discipline is good for your mental health. It feels good to achieve goals that are difficult, whether it is getting up at 6am or choosing to go to the gym early on a Saturday instead of sleeping in or avoiding that 3rd piece of cake, all things which apply to me! I find that when I lack Discipline, it is very easy to disappoint myself as I lack the motivation to do things that I know will be good for me. However I find Joy choosing to do hard things, which ultimately give me self confidence and make me feel like a boss.

Nonetheless it is a continuous struggle but one that I do not have to confront it on my own. God has my back, he fills me with the strength I need to be more self-controlled. Therefore do not be discouraged if discipline is something you struggle with because you are not alone!

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

[2 Corinthians 12 v 9]

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My Husband is Not My Hero.

I am definitely guilty of expecting my husband (D) to be perfect and I am guilty of putting him on a pedestal so high that when he dares to be human or dares to make a mistake and that when it comes crashing down, I feel betrayed and react like a raging bull.

However, something I have learned this past year is that just like I am not perfect, neither is my husband. No matter how much I want him to be the one who knows me inside and out, who knows exactly what I am thinking and feeling and who knows exactly the right thing to say every time, he cannot be that person. The truth is, he is just as broken, sinful and imperfect as I am. He cannot and will never complete me.

Sometimes we get stuck, we misunderstand each other and we miss each other’s perspectives. Most of the time I am pretty stubborn and hard-headed. My pride can get in the way of communicating and of building intimacy with D. Thankfully for me, I have a husband who loves and cares for me. He also knows not to talk to me when I am hungry or running on less than eight hours of sleep. Now do not get me wrong, D is an amazing person who day by day shows me a love and kindness that only he can. He also understands me most of the time (though not when I am moody) but he cannot save me.

How can someone who is as flawed, sinful and imperfect as my husband save me? We would have no chance!

If there is anything I have learnt in our first year of marriage, it is that only through the love of God and love of Jesus can I love other people.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

[1 Corinthians 13: 4-8]

God’s love is pure and unconditional. It is also unwavering, unlike my love which picks and chooses when it manifests. It is only when I choose to love God and choose to let the Holy Spirit work on my selfishness and my pride, that I can truly love others, including my husband. The verses above paint a clear picture of God’s love for us. His love is an example for me to follow, not just when D does sweet things like taking the trash out or making me endless cups of tea but also when he makes mistakes or annoys me and needs to be shown grace.

It would also be a joke to think I can love using my own ability (D can certainly testify that I cannot). As much as I like to think of myself as a completely selfless woman, always right and never wrong, I am just not. And you know what? That is okay, well sometimes, because Jesus does not expect me to be all those things. He loved me and called me to him despite my failings to love unconditionally and he made me righteous. He restores me and changes me to become all the things that he is: patient, kind, humble and so on.

So, my husband is not my hero and I would not want him to be because I have Jesus who is my number 1, my hero, my saviour and the one I choose to love and trust and put all my hopes in first and foremost.

For Better Or Worse

Being married can be difficult. It requires a certain level of emotional vulnerability and openness that doesn’t always come easy. There is still the threat of heartache, hurt and pain even in a committed relationship. As humans, our bodies and mind are wired to respond to the threat of danger with fight or flight.

More often than not, when it comes to matters of the heart, we choose the flight response. It is the easiest and safest way to protect ourselves from deeper hurt. While this may seem like the best thing to do in the moment, it is a short-term solution which can lead to more hurt, as it leads us to close off, trust less and as a result, isolation can occur. Isolation in marriage is no fun. I know that from my experience of it. It is no secret to me or to my husband (thankfully) that i find it difficult to trust or let people in. It is not something that comes naturally to me and yet i yearn for a closeness and a friendship with people that requires trust and honesty.

Honesty- that is easy, well, as long as it doesn’t require emotional vulnerability. In that case, is it really honesty? Something i am sure of but still learning, is that in order to be vulnerable, i must let God in. I must be vulnerable with him first, sharing my thoughts and feelings instead of hiding from him or at least trying to hide! God is my strength and my shield, he knows me better than anyone ever will, he loves me more than anyone ever will. Though i know this, it is easy to forget especially when i do not take the time to speak to him or allow him to speak to me.

However, all i can do is trust in God, believe that he will change me and help me grow, that he will break down the walls built so high. His love overflows in my life and i only hope to show a glimmer of that love to those around me. His will is perfect and he will prevail, in spite of my attempts to hide from him. I trust him in my marriage and i trust him to build me up, into a better sister, daughter, friend and the wife my new darling husband deserves me to be.