As I sat down to write this Monday morning, I felt as though I was emerging from some sort of fog. I've spent the last four months in school, busy with budding relationships and homework and self discovery. I realized today as I sat in a still house that in all of this rushing around, the good busyness that has been filling my life, I've forgotten to just sit with myself.
When I sat down to begin analyzing my thoughts on joy, the only thing I could think was that I didn't feel joyful. If anything, I feel quite the opposite. I feel exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I got to this point, as I began to learn to once again exist without the constant buzz of activity, where I had to ask myself what I'm doing.
For the past week I've felt some form of discontentment. My plan was just to power through it, to get through the exams and get to break and then everything would be ok. All I needed was a few good nights sleep, some serious Netflix binging, some free time and I would be fine.
But as I pushed through, I watched my relationships with others and myself begin to suffer.
I watched as I began to put my identity in others, only to be disappointed and wounded when they didn't react the way I wanted them to. I began to get irritated with small things, and the bitterness began to grow. I felt underappreciated, and suffered from a sense of inadequacy. The gratitude list I've been keeping for a few months now suddenly ceased being added to. I turned to myself to try and fill the gap I felt, but only ended up more disappointed and feeling like a failure than I had before. And joy, joy had somehow vanished when I wasn't looking, too busy pressing on.
I'm not saying the things I was using to fill my time were bad. But I am saying that when the homework, the relationships and the internal and external noise begin to take the place of that internal balance and connection I have with God, something's wrong.
I also am speaking about this all in past tense, but I haven't crossed that goal line. I haven't figured it all out. I'm still learning how to deal with this, and I think it's a constant battle, something you always have to learn.
Because the pressures of life sometimes get too big, and the noise gets too loud, and it's easy to miss the joy when you're not looking for it.
If you don't stop to count all the gifts He gives, are you not also rushing right past the opportunity to fully participate in joyful living?
As I sat this morning in the big chair in the living room, all wrapped up in a blanket and sitting in my discontentment wondering what went wrong, I slowly began to trace back to the moment where I felt the shift, where I seemingly lost my balance.
It was there, there when I assigned my value to another person and was let down. There, which reminded me of all the times before when I was disappointed. There, where I came to the conclusion that I must not be good enough, that this which I have been given must not be good enough.
But when I take all that God has given and call it not good, I am closing myself off to the possibility of joy.
I am stubbornly holding on to all I have, claiming it for my own, and in the process snuffing out my joy candle.
My Philippians teacher used to sing this song which I find myself singing more and more often these days which says "(your friends, family, truck...) might let you down, but Jesus never fails."
Jesus, because that is the answer. Because that is the Ultimate gift. Because that takes what I have and turns it into enough.
And every moment in which I am thankful for these gifts, for His grace, I am discovering my joy. My joy is being made complete.
"I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made complete" John 15:11
Every moment I take what I have and call it not enough, I am closing myself off. I am hiding myself away, stubbornly holding on to all I have and all I am and saying that what God has given is not good enough. Who God is and what He has promised is not good enough.
But when I open myself up and with an open, humble hand receive ALL that He will give, my joy can be made complete.
Because my friends might let me down, and my physical body might let me down, and my ambitions might let me down but Jesus never fails