So my first Journey to Joy Blog post a while back was a little lengthy, but worth the read for any of you ladies who need a boost of encouragement and feel that you’ve kinda been in a funk. That was me. That girl, randomly on given days or weeks, and can still be me at times. Let’s face it, we’re women. Our lives are constantly moving and changing. Our emotions, thoughts, and circumstances can sometimes have a hard time staying wrapped up in a nice pretty bow, and that’s ok. We know we’ll catch our footing and get it together eventually.
But what about the times when our lives feel like more than just a temporary funk? Those low moods and emotions linger in our hearts, becoming all too comfortable. They’ve worn out their welcome, but it takes too much effort to get them to leave. Before you know it, they’ve moved in and are a part of your everyday coming and going.
Maybe your job makes you completely miserable, but there’s no way to keep your family finances in tact for even a month if you quit. Or on that same note, you feel stuck where you’re at, but you feel that your heart is longing for something else to allow you to flourish in your giftedness. I’m sure most of you can relate with having an emotional heartache of some form. You’re either aching from loss of a loved one, dealing with deep pain caused by a relationship, or hurting with empathy for someone else who is suffering. Through all these times and trials we have prayed. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. That is a key principle of our beliefs as Christians. We pray. And we hope for what is not seen. And we have faith that God will be faithful. And we believe. But if I asked for a show of hands of all the Jesus loving, God-fearing, faithful worshippers, who ever felt like their prayers– their deep, heartfelt, passionate, glorifying prayers– had fallen on deaf ears, we’d most likely be at least a little surprised as we look around and think “I wonder what she’s raising her hand for…”.
Seemingly oversimplified, I’m willing to bet that if you think of your struggles, they can fit into one or more of these categories. Insecurity. Weariness. Sorrow. They often times morph into the next one the longer they spend feeding off of our lack of actively fighting against them.
At the risk of sounding oversimplified a second time, here is our hope of being able to live through these sometimes overwhelming life circumstances. It’s Jesus.
Christmas is my absolute, 100% favorite time of year. I love everything about it. I love the festivities, the lights, decorations, the Christmas cookies, the excitement on every child’s face. I love time with family and friends, eating huge delicious meals in celebration of the season. I love Church programs, and theater productions of Annie, the Nutcracker, and Miracle on 34th Street. Speaking of…I loooooove Christmas movies! Christmas romance novels, Christmas music, Christmas shopping, Christmas presents. I love drinking eggnog, and hot chocolate, and buying the giant bins of popcorn with golden retrievers on them. I love Christmas parties, Christmas lights that you can drive through in the park, and all of the charities that are doing good. It’s a time when I feel more bonded to my family. I feel that the days are a little easier because there is some kind of magic in the air.
And every year, it never fails. With a mix of all of these wonderful things, the Lord grabs my heart, and gives me a glimpse of the true Joy that has, and always will come from Him. Every year around this time, though it is happy, and busy, for me it is also a time where I naturally slow down, and spend some extra time with my Savior. The one who this whole season was originally about. The one who is the source of all joy.
Because part of all the hype about Christmas is that we know, come December 31st, it officially ends. If we know something is only temporary, we indulge as much as we can. But just as overindulging on those Christmas sugar cookies will give us a sugar high, then a tummy ache, if our Joy of Christmas is in vain, come January, those cold days leave our hearts insecure, weary, and sometimes filled with sorrow that we were able to temporarily mask with the holiday busyness.
Once the season is over, here comes our moody little frienemies, out of the woodworks. Today, we’ll take a closer look at insecurity.
About 6 years ago I read a book by Beth Moore, called So Long Insecurity and it left me stunned, changed, and encouraged. It permanently altered my perspective of myself and understanding of others. It gave me that “ah-ha moment” as Oprah would say. That was the season that I realized that SO much of my ebbing and flowing feelings and emotions were because of insecurity from a drastically unaware inward focus on myself.
“As long as we live, our self-absorption and our insecurity will walk together, holding hands and swinging them back and forth like two little girls on their way to a pretend playground they can never find. Human nature dictates that most often we will be as insecure as we are self-absorbed. The best possible way to keep from getting sucked into the superficial narcissistic mentality that money, possessions, and sensuality can satisfy and secure us is to deliberately give ourselves to something much greater…[Christ] showed us that giving, rather than getting, is the means to receiving…to find yourself, your true self, you must lose yourself in something larger.”
-Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity
This is one of those books that I think EVERY woman should read, and as I’m typing this, I’m thinking I will start reading it again this week! We all have insecurities, they look different in every person. But the questions we should ask ourselves are these—Are your insecurities keeping you from your true purpose? God’s pure and perfect will for your life? Do you act out in ways that you look back and think, “What am I, a teenage girl?” Are you kept silent and stuck by fear, by insecurity? I was. And I still am sometimes. But I’m choosing every day to choose joy, to trust Jesus with my mess, to allow my life to revolve less around selfishness and more about giving my full self to glorifying the Lord.
When we continue to live in our insecurities, they are the gateway to our deeper emotional struggles. Insecurity keeps you from living in the glory that God has meant for your life, the strengths and gifts he’s given you, like a present to be opened, used, and shown off, for his glory.
But the enemy loves for us to prime our hearts in insecurity. The perfect setting for him to come in and paint his lies on the walls of our souls. If we belong to Jesus, the devil cannot have our lives, but he sure can sneak in and occupy our attention to keep it on ourselves and off of Jesus.
In this day and age of credit cards, social media, and humble brags, it’s just the truth that we all have insecurities about something. We all have doubts about fully being who God really intended us to be. We want to walk in the freedom and glory that he has intended for us, but just can’t quite seem to slow down, to make time, or to clear a space in our messy, complicated lives to fully see his heart in our every day. Like anything that we’ve made a fixture in our life, there is not a quick fix to insecurity. But there is a quick start guide!
Stop comparing yourself and declutter your life mentally and emotionally. Detach from things or people that are simply making you feel less than, and are stealing you away from the Lord instead of bringing you closer. Maybe it’s a commitment you made to make someone happy, Maybe it’s Instagram, maybe a friend, or even a romantic relationship! Remember that you actually do have a choice of many things that occupy your life. You can’t choose your circumstances, but take a moment to think about the daily things you CAN choose to prioritize.
You also have full control of what you see on your social media feeds. “Feed” yourself with positivity and encouragement.
For me, my biggest comparison issue, was comparing myself to the version of myself that I knew I could be, but wasn’t. Does that make sense? Not living up to your own expectations of yourself. Give those to the Lord to guide you, to get you there, or to actually show you his better version that he has for you.
John 14:27—Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Actually spend time in God’s Word and live by HIS words instead of self generated, filtered, and coveted words of praise by others.
Romans 10:17—…Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Hebrews 4:12—For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Get serious about prayer! Like any human relationship, even if someone knows how you feel about something, you cannot build a closer relationship with them unless you actually TALK to them. The best friendships and healthiest relationships are built by deep intimate, safe, and loving conversations. If you have never really had a deep relationship with Jesus, just start talking to him. He wants your heart, your affection, your deepest hurts. He wants to show you love, grace, hope…joy.
2 Chronicles 7:14—Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Ephesians 1:18—I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people
I can’t help but compare our lives to the original Christmas Bible story. There was no room for him in the inn. Our Savior. Our King. No one made him a priority guest. No one really stopped their lives to observe the miracle. Yet he was born. Yet he saved the world. Yet he STILL is saving souls, not just for eternity, but for us to live fully and abundantly here in this life.
Please join me in your own life, to take the time this Christmas season to really stop, and make room for Jesus. Give him your insecurities, your heartache, you dreams. Place your hope in him and realize the true Joy that comes from the grace and love we receive from him. True joy from Jesus doesn’t fade when the twinkling lights come down at the end of December (Or mid-January for some of us). It doesn’t disappear when you are done striving for that New Year’s resolution.
Whether you are a devout Christian walking through the different seasons of faith, or you aren’t a Christian at all, this is the perfect time to make room for Him in your life and start your journey to a joy you have never known before.
Be blessed, live loved.
I’d love to hear from you! Leave comments here or on Facebook to connect and encourage one another.