The past 4 months I have longed for joy. I haven't felt like myself. I've prayed that God would give me joy. "Please!" Then I've waited.
Recently I had an "ah ha" moment. I just started reading "The Seasons of a Mother's Heart" by Sally Clarkson. Here is a quote from her book:
"Joy is the result of the choices that you make. If you are choosing to be thankful and learning to be content, then you are opening your heart to joy."
Choosing to be thankful.
Learning to be content.
I am embarrassed to admit that I just finished studying one book on gratitude ("One Thousand Gifts") & one on contentment ("Calm my Anxious Heart").
How can I so quickly forget truth? In one ear, out the other.
God has given me drastic opportunities to be grateful. He has tried to teach me to be content with the children I have been blessed with. Yet the lessons are NOT sinking in!
"Joy is not a supernatural feeling that God pours on you from heaven but a gift of the Holy Spirit that is released by faith. You don't have to wait for God to give you joy." -Sally Clarkson
I'm again reminded of my recent study of the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It's not something I can force. Instead...
"You simply need to get your self out of the way and let the Spirit fill your heart and mind with his truth...exercising faith, and that faith releases the joy of the Spirit in your life. Only through the Holy Spirit can you truly celebrate life and find the joy God wants you to know." -Sally Clarkson
There is the "ah ha" moment. It comes back to humility. Replacing "me" with "He".
Here is the active recipe for joy:
1. Get myself out of the way! Humility...
2. Focus on my faith. God has given me my portion. He knows what He is doing and He does not make mistakes.
3. Learn to be content in what I have been given. ("I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" Phil 4:11). I can't wait to have joy when my children are finally perfect. Or wait for when they obey all the time. Or wait for when I'm no longer pregnant. Or wait for when my home is calm and peaceful.
I need to learn to be content with imperfect children who disobey while I'm pregnant in a chaotic home!
4. Be thankful despite circumstances I don't like.
"When I...complain instead of giving thanks, I am in effect telling God that he is mishandling my life and I don't care for the way he's doing his job...putting my faith in my circumstances.
I am telling God--and myself--that if and when my circumstances change, then and only then can I be happy. Until then I have nothing to be thankful for." -Sally Clarkson
When I'm not thankful for the opportunity to parent 4 boys I'm saying "God you don't know what you are doing. I think I would be a better mom to girls."
Joy does not come by just sitting on the couch saying, "God give me joy."
I need to be in a daily, active relationship with God in which my faith is growing. Learning to be content (not expecting perfection) and thankful (counting His gifts each day). Obviously God is trying to teach me these lessons...now if I could just exercise the truth that I know!!
Do you struggle with having joy? Are you actively working on contentment and gratitude?
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