Journey to Joy
Part 1: One Piece Swimsuits & An Extra Cup of Coffee
The other morning during Emily’s nap time, I waisted an hour and a half, an HOUR AND A HALF, browsing and clicking through one piece swimsuits worn by women who don’t necessarily “need” to wear one piece swimsuits. Surely you know what I mean. (We are going on a beach vacation in October and thought I’d see what I was workin’ with by trying on my bikinis from pre-pregnancy summers past. It was a tragedy to say the least.)
I came to as the sweet little whimper I’m accustomed to hearing was faintly palpitating through the baby monitor. Instant feelings of heaviness and finality washed over me as I emptied my online carts, closed all browsers, and flipped my laptop closed with slight aggression. With a deep sigh and a couple of heavy blinks, I regrouped and vulnerably let the heaviness marinate. The doubts and disappointments of having to buy a collection of one piece swimsuits because, even after 14 moths of birthing a baby, I’m still not, and fear that I never will be in shape enough to wear a bikini confidently again. I got up and made my way across the room, only to catch my reflection in the mirror. I paused and examined myself long enough to confirm the negativity that was already pouring into my heart and mind. “Pasty, splotchy skin, brassy, tangled, split end hair that is long overdo for some t.l.c.”—A pretty fall far from where I used to be.
Wow! What a pity party I was throwing.
I could have chose that moment at 10 a.m. to literally let my day and self image be ruined. I could have continued to allow Satan the freedom of wrecking me emotionally.
But I REFUSED! And you need to refuse, too!
Jesus tells us that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” John 10:10
Did you see how he used the word only? Like literally, those are the sole purposes of Satan. Everything that he does is centered around stealing, killing, and destroying. The first priority of the enemy’s plan of our downfall is to steal. And trust me, he will find something to get his sticky little fingers on. For me it ALWAYS, always, always starts with my emotions. Within those emotions, the first thing that is snatched by the hands of the thief is my joy.
Joy- a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.
I am a sensitive, emotional, deep feeling, deep thinking person. If I am stuck in a funk, it is usually because I have allowed my thoughts and emotions agree with the lies of Satan. For the longest time I would just allow myself to feel the sad, empty, hopelessness that was being fueled to my emotions. But with continuous pursuit of wisdom and truth, I realized yet another time, that I am in control of my mind, my emotions. I am not ruled by the swayings of Satan. My heart is filled with the love, faith, and joy that comes from Jesus. With that truth declared over me and you, we have power to resist the whispers of his lies.
Even on days of doubt. Even on the days where we actually, honestly, do agree with the negativity. We have to make the conscious decision to choose joy in those moments. We have to choose to stop the slippery slope of negative self talk and surrender our thoughts and emotions to the Lord. He will fill our hearts and minds with hope, encouragement, a renewed spirit, a renewed mindset, and anything else that your specific heart is longing for. He can provide it…in infinite amounts.
Colossians 3 really speaks to this truth.
Colossians 3:1-2 Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.
A couple of earthly things that I have been setting my mind to:
- Low self esteem from comparison. Even if the comparison is to myself.
- Fear of failure of being able to accomplish what I think will make me feel accomplished (keeping my house clean an organized, being a great wife, making the extra time to exercise more)
Paul, the author of the book of Colossians, instructs us to “put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature.” Get rid of those thoughts, those self imposed expectations, because essentially we are making those things an idol in our hearts. You’re thinking, “ok, woah! Let’s not go that far,” but yes! That is truly what we are doing when, for example we spend an unnecessary hour and a half looking at swimsuits, while actually, doing more self loathing than shopping. We are making our insecurities an idol in our hearts, and we are called to SO much more than that!
Paul gives us a list of things of our earthly nature that we need to really evaluate and get rid of! (You can’t move forward if you still have a pile of deep rooted sin) Then Colossians 3 takes a beautiful refreshing turn at verse 12.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.
The way this is written, it’s directing us on how to act in relation with others. But I simply can’t keep from reading this and applying it within myself! Yes, let’s possess these characteristics and have them overflow out of us toward other. But let’s apply these inwardly first and just see what comes alive in our hearts. What if I had a little more compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience toward myself? What if you did? I wish I could be sitting face to face, having an actual conversation with you to ask if anyone else needs to forgive yourself? Anyone have grievances against yourself? Anyone else sighing in relief that we have the freedom in Christ to not only ask Jesus for forgiveness and new life, but to also have the power to forgive ourselves of our personal frustrations, our failures, our missed opportunities, our mistakes? ME! Right here! Hand raised.
Continuing to apply this passage to ourselves for this particular discussion, verse 14 really just gets me doing a little shoulder and head bobbing dance to the tune of Justin Bieber. “Baby you should go and love yourself…bahdabumbum bahdabum bahdabumbum bahdabum…”
Colossians 3:15-17 gives us that last bit of complete encouragement. The icing on the cake. The hands raised moment. The final burst of joy that makes me want to do cartwheels out the front door.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
YES! Let’s clear out all the junk in our hearts and minds, and really allow the peace of Christ to rule completely within us. Spend time in true prayer and in the word and let it cover every part of our being.
“And be thankful”— This time of year, it’s on the forefront of our minds with cutesie signs saying “thankful, grateful, blessed.” But let’s really live that! Instead of me being in a mental tizzy over these dadgum one piece swimsuits, I could easily make a whole entire list of things I’m thankful for that are completely relevant to this same specific event.
I am thankful to be able to shop for one-piece swimsuits because…
- We are blessed enough to take an all inclusive vacation to one of our favorite, beautiful, happy places! In October! (That actually is enough right there!)
- I will feel comfortable and not self conscious over my body and will have more freedom to eat extra breakfast burritos and churros.
- Even in my fittest days I was always a little self conscious in a bikini anyway. This just allows me to actually relax and enjoy myself instead of thinking of my appearance the whole time.
- As I look in the mirror through a different mental lens, my body really doesn’t look near as bad as I made it out to be. I am thankful for the more recent weight loss I’ve had naturally due to eliminating some stress from my life.
- I have the most precious baby girl in the world who is the greatest joy I have experienced on earth! I would forever take that along with a life of one-pieces over my previous vain ideals expectations.
Ok, I could seriously go on all day, but I’ll stop there because you get the picture. There is always something we can be thankful for within our circumstances.
I love seeing the word “richly” in this verse, because I am a dessert junky. I like to think of a tres leches cake, and how it is just completely saturated with that liquid gold of sweetened condensed milk (which growing up I only knew it as Eagle Brand Milk…another East Texas story for another time). It is richly saturated with it’s goodness. I want my heart to be that richly consumed with the word of Christ. Can I get an amen?
Lastly, the declaration we are sent off with is to do everything “in word or deed” in the name of Jesus! So for me, these areas that might continue to be a stumbling block for me, I’m just going to be saying “Ok Lord, I will not allow this negative self image, words of doubt, or fears of failure to rule over me. I want your peace to consume my heart. I want everything I do to be a reflection of you and your love and grace in my life. I’m giving these things over to you. Give me the wisdom, the resolute, the motivation, and the grace to make changes in the areas of my life that will allow me to be confident and joyful within myself and to ultimately glorify you!”
So back to my scene of aggressively closed laptop and baby waking up—I could have allowed all that hopelessness over something SO unimportant to truly consume me that entire day, and even trickle into other days. I could have done that. In the past I would have done that. I would have even carried out my insecurities in further unhealthy ways and justify them as healthy, or “what I need to do.” But the Lord is continuing to work on me and change me. That morning I took an extra moment to call out to Jesus, to dwell richly in his words of truth, grace, and love. I chose joy in that moment.
I then decided to get an extra cup of coffee just for a little boost…and that definitely sealed the deal 😉
Jesus & Coffee—the cure for the common funk.
Be blessed, live loved, choose joy.