Ultimate Joy

Archive for February 2012

I don’t have much to offer. There isn’t a lot of money in my bank account. My talents and abilities aren’t going to change the world. I’ve often let my friends down and my husband will say I nag him. I always have laundry to do and my house is never clean. I let being an extrovert prevent me from finishing my writing projects. I’m lonely some days – especially without Richard. I constantly give into the voice that says, “You are not good enough to do this.” The nights are numerous when I lay in bed unable to sleep because self-deprecating thoughts swirl inside my head and I can’t shut them off.

Many times I have felt unworthy writing on the subject of joy because my life lacks joy. Honestly, I’d hardly be the poster girl for it. And I admit there are times when I write encouraging words to you simply because I need to speak encouragement into my life.

Today I need to know that I’m making a difference – that my life counts for something and means something. I’d like to say that God is adequate in me, but don’t you find there are some days when that promise seems to fall flat? When you need more than words because, well, “Everyone else seems to have it all together – what’s wrong with me?”

So the only thing left for me to do is open God’s love letter to me and find a verse that speaks into my inadequacies. When I delve into His words, I feel Him so close. When I desperately need Jesus, only His message breaks through.

One of my favorites is Philippians 1:8, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God is still working on me!  How amazing is that? Even when I feel like I’ve lost my purpose, I know I possess the creativity and potential to do amazing things for Him. I have to wipe away the “I can’t” and “I’m not” thoughts because I know deep inside of me God has given me all I need to fulfill what He calls me to do. He isn’t always looking for a person who has their act together.

Because I suspect that you’re just like me. We think everyone else can do it all. That thought only immobilizes us from doing what we can do – what God calls us to do.

The truth is no one can do it all.  But we can remember God loves us so deeply that He is constantly working on us. And our job becomes being patient and loving with ourselves as we cooperate with the process.

So today, I’m praying that God will show me how to stay fixed on His love. To let go of the lie that everyone’s life is better than mine. And with my prayers come the request that He will show me how I can be happier.

For I find my joy only when I whisper my thank you to God and choose to see the blessings intertwined throughout my day.

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Today is awful, confusing and brings with it a kind of pain difficult to describe in words. Richard left for Chicago yesterday, so again I’m alone. The house feels empty and cold without his presence. Even Lily, our dog, is wandering through it hoping to find Richard hiding somewhere, expecting he’ll be ready to play once she finds him.

The day after he leaves is always the toughest. It’s a profound hurt with many questions piercing my heart even deeper. Are we doing the right thing? When will we be together again? Why do we have to wait to be together? What will our future be like?

Self-doubt swirls in my brain until I want to scream out, “I can’t live another day like this. I can’t live without his touch, his help, his presence.”

I know. There are worse things in life than this self-imposed separation. When my attitude becomes too fatalistic, I think of military spouses who send their loved ones into combat zones. Last time I checked, Chicago was still much safer than Kabul. But we all have things we’ve dreamed of and longed for and not gotten when we wanted them.

My heart floods with doubts and with them the desire to run back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget the world exists. The questions intensify –

“Will things ever go our way?”

“When will my life get better?”

“Where is the confidence I had when I made the decision to move to California?”

Through the pangs of loneliness, I cry out to God knowing I can’t live without His touch, His help, His presence. And in His word, I find comfort, “Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23) Slowly, my qualms evaporate since it is not possible to dwell in God’s hope and still cling to doubt.

And then God reminds me, I moved here with a confident heart because He was in my decision. He provided the hope life could be abundant, even when Richard and I are apart. God doesn’t want me to doubt now because it would erode my success, community and belonging.  And that’s not the way He wants me to live my life.

No, instead He wants my life to reflect back His strength and power. He simply desires that I throw my doubts back to him and cover myself in His strength. For only then can my confident heart move forward united with God’s loving promises to me.

ImageTimelessness stared back at me. Rather than being a cruel trickster, visiting the Sonoran Desert compressed civilization into something small and immaterial.  The cactus, shrubs and mountains stood in rugged solidarity; untouched by mankind as I envisioned being one of the first pioneers viewing what is now known as the Valley of the Sun.  My world had not been playing nice lately, but here I could forget my disappointing job search and let this desolate place bring peace. The enduring desert brought an inexplicably settled spirit and an eternal perspective.

I’ve stared into timelessness before.  I’ve endured the bitter barrenness of burying people I loved. I’ve fought the sour battle against biting, chronic pain.  And there are days, I’ve been marked by the pungent cruelness of flawed world.

But no longer would I whine. Staring at the tumbleweeds meant appreciating the permanency of God. The desert’s inhospitableness was a healing place. There I could easily bring to mind when God easily flattened the walls of my problems.  I recalled Who brought me through those times. I am His child!

But more importantly, the vast, unchanging desert reminded me God’s delays are not postponements due to inactivity, but times of training. While we wait, He prepares us for His answer according to His perfect, timeless plan.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I no longer want to waste my life – to feel as if my life is seemingly endless like the panorama before me. I aspire a life of loving with abandon and providing copious mercy anchored in the rock-solid faith of God’s permanency. I crave joy living loudly in my soul. I want to wrench life from every moment I have breath.

I know none of us really knows how much time we have. All my life I’ve wasted minutes…times when I’ve zoned out. I missed out because I’ve given over to fear, self-doubt and sloth.  There is no replacement for those.

But there is a choice going forward.  To rush with trust into the deep, enfolding arms of God. To walk with Him, letting Him fill my days.  To not run away from things that are hard, but sprint towards the appointments God showers along my path.

That’s easy to say when only the tumbleweeds silently reply. But no matter how long the desert of joblessness lasts, I know I have nothing to prove.  For I am already approved by Him.