Monday, February 24, 2014

OK, SO WHERE'S THE JOY??


Yup, I'm wondering…

JOY is my word for 2014.

And so far, this year has had a rocky start.  Yes, my father's hospitalization and his passing were very, very difficult.  But oddly, throughout it all, I felt a supernatural buoyancy in my heart.  God's presence was very close, and yes, I did feel a settled sense of JOY.

But in the last couple of weeks, as life has returned to normal, I've been overcome with a spiritual malaise.

Sure, I know that I will feel sad about my dad for a long, long time.  But this feeling is something else.  It's like I have a low-grade *blah* going on.

Sometimes this just happens to me.

For no particular reason.

Sometimes, there's no explanation for the cold, dreary weather front in my soul.  It's just there – blanketing everything.

I hesitated writing this post.  I like being upbeat, encouraging, positive – and even downright inspiring once in a while.

But, right now, I don't have it in me.

When I get these "moods" I don't usually feel like doing much of anything.  I am "She Who Is Unable To Be Pleased." 

And truthfully, I also don't feel like writing(mostly because I'm dry, dry, dry).

Now I know that this is not a "God-honoring" place to be.  And I don't like the concerted determination that tends to creep into my heart – "I'm going to hold on to this mood no matter what."

So, desperate to cling on to something other than "grayness," I decided to do a search within my blog for posts I have labeled *joy*.  And I found one post that really spoke to the way I'm feeling right now.  So, I've decided to re-write it for today's post.  (No, not cheating…well, maybe a little…)


This post gave me renewed insight into why I might be feeling low right now.

It's because I've been playing a game.

The "What If Game" –

Ever played it?

It's really pretty simple.  There are two versions of the game.  Let me explain.

First of all, there’s the "Game of What If Past."

Basically, you think about all the things you should have done, but didn't.  Or think about all the things you did do, but shouldn't have.

What if I had gone to a different college?  Or gone to college?  What if I hadn't (or had) gotten married?  Or what if I'd married someone else?  What if I'd taken that other job?  What if I hadn't made that investment?  What if I hadn't bought this house?  What if I hadn't made that choice?  What if I'd done this instead?  (I'm sure you can add to this list...)

You get the idea.

The word "should" is really important in this version of the game.  I looked up the word "SHOULD" in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:

S tubbornly
H olding
O n
U ntil
L iving in
D efeat


The other version is the "Game of What If Future."

Basically, you think about all the things that could happen, and be sure to concentrate on the worst-case scenario.

What if I lose my job?  What if I lose my house?  What if I get some dreaded disease?  What if my spouse leaves me, or dies?  What if something happens to my kids?  What if I never get married?  What if my car breaks down?  What if I can't pay the taxes?  What if I get hurt?  What if my plans, dreams, goals don't work out?  (Adding to this list, too???)

The word "could" is really important in this game.  I looked up the word "COULD" in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:

C oncentrating
O n
U ncertainty
L iving in
D efeat


Living in Defeat.

That's the key objective of the "What If Game."  The rules are simple:

1) Always think (obsess) about things you cannot change and/or have no control over.
2) Allow yourself to be consumed with this miry thinking.
3) Keep playing until you have exhausted yourself – until you are emotionally paralyzed.
4) Play until you are unable to be any good whatsoever for the present moment.


That's when you've won the game.

Except you haven't…

The enemy has.

It's his game, you see –

Distracted, ineffective, discouraged, anxious, weak, intimidated…

We become nothing but little pawns of his fiery arrow thoughtsmoved around on his game board, subject to his whims.

Why are we playing this game?

Why are we not fighting this battle?

(Why am I playing  why am I not fighting?)

You know why?

Because it's a subtle game.  It's not always easy to see who's moving the pieces.

After all, these are just MY thoughts…right?  I'm in control of my mind…right?  If I have a thought enter my head, I have to think it…right?

"Sure, absolutely," the devil says.

And don't just think it.  Invite it in for a meal.  Let it have a sleepover.  Hey, why not let it be a permanent houseguest –


My friends, the "What If Game" is not harmless!

It is an insidious inroad for the enemy's work.

We have to be aware of it.  We have to be on guard.  We have to fight 
against it.

And we need help.


Jesus won this game.

Satan played a great game of "What If" with Jesus in the wilderness...


"Hey, you're tired and hungry…WHAT IF you turned these stones into bread?"

"I know, WHAT IF you jumped off the Temple – you could call a bunch of your angel buddies to save you."

"You know, WHAT IF I gave you all the kingdoms of the world to rule over, right now?"


Jesus did not give in.

He used a failsafe strategythe ONLY effective strategy in this game.

He used Scripture.

We must do the same.


The "Game of What If Past" –

"…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past…I press on to reach the end of the race…" (Philippians 3:13-14)


The "Game of What If Future" –

"Can all your worries add a single day to your life?...[God] will certainly care for you…So don't worry about tomorrow…" (Matthew 6:27, 30-31)


The final move in the "What If Game"?

"Give us TODAY the food we need…" (Matthew 6:11)

"THIS is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it."
(Psalm 118:24)

"You go before me and follow me…I can never get away from your presence…Every day of my life…every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:5, 7, 16)


Checkmate.

Game Over.

We win.


Today I am once again realizing that even in the middle of the *blahs* – I can still have JOY if I don't lose focus.

Because today – I have Jesus.

And in Him, Jesus Only You, I can find something that I'm not feeling naturally…

I can find – or more accurately perhaps, re-find – JOY.






Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning. 



"Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the LORD will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
'Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.'
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish...
And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God's ways;
fools will never walk there...
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness."

(From Isaiah 35, NLT)


"Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.  They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness." (Isaiah 51:11, NLT)

"For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.  And God will wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17, NLT)



How might you find (or re-find) your JOY today?


Linked today with:

Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at SOLI DEO GLORIA
Jen at UNITE
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS
Kasey at WALKING REDEEMED
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS
Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY
Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA JAM
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Salina at HEART REFLECTED
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

34 comments:

  1. Great post. Very inspirational. We can't let the enemy win! ((HUGS))

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  2. Hi Sharon! I'm sorry that you feel so dry these days. That's a hard place to be. But I think it's pretty normal after the sadness you have just been through.
    I love the "should" and "could" words, it's so true. Living in the moment is where we live, and should have our heads and hearts too. I might miss the blessing of right now if I live in the 'just passed' or 'dreaded future.'
    "I know the plans I have for you..." says the Lord. And they are good ones, Sharon. Hang in there, hug your husband. Take a walk...have some good coffee. Give yourself time to heal. It will come.
    Prayers and blessings my friend,
    Ceil

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  3. You know Susan the same thing happens to me - I feel all my feelings tend to recycle. Very inspiring and you always inspire me to do better. sandie

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  4. My hubby and I have been experiencing some winter blahs with our arctic weather....I think most people go through this and even the I'm just going to feel this way cuz I wanna....thoughts
    One thing to hold on to here is the no condemnation verse and giving yourself a little grace hug...resting in His arms and speaking life with your words, His Word. Also listening to music that praises God. These are things I do to find my joy if it is hiding under a bushel somewhere. Very thoughtful post, Sharon.

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  5. Sharon...nothing left to say that these sweet friends haven't said. You will get through this...and I will pray for you, far-away-friend-who-I-will-probably-never-meet-face-to-face... Father God, I come to You right now as I type these words. You know your daughter, Sharon here....she needs your touch right now. Wrap her in Your loving arms and hold her, dear Jesus....for as long as she needs to be held. Restore her spirit, I pray, and revive her joy. In Your holy name, Amen.

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  6. Sharon, my friend... If my forehead were big enough, I would imprint this entire blog on it, and read it in the mirror every day!! It's so full of so much that we all feel, more often than we should, but it also points to the source of our joy, and away from that robber of joy, and it's everything I needed to hear today. Onr more time you nailed it. Thank you for your honest and true heart. I love it.

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  7. Thanks for the reminder again that we don't want the enemy to win; I do hope you get out of the blahs soon; I think we do that in our lives, hard not to stay in them for a bit, but I think it is good you realize and recognize you are in one of them right now and trying your best to get out of it by concentrating on JOY!

    betty

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  8. I must tell you, Sharon, that I'm re-reading an old, old book that I've probably read three times already. It's called, "The Nevertheless Principle," and it all started when the author spent too much time playing the "what if" game. It's by Marion Bond West and you can probably find a used copy out there somewhere.

    As one who has often played the "what if" game, I can tell you, it's totally self-defeating.

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  9. My word for this year is joyful. After I recieved the word, in prayer and contemplation of the Word, I was really afraid of what the year will bring. I have learned from my previous experiences that God's way of teaching us to be joyful isn't what we would think. So, this has been a rough year from the start, with so much heartbreaking and difficult things that I couldn't have even imagined them. But they the joy that I am filled with comes from experiencing God amongst it all, even when the tempest is at it's fullest, He will bring me peace and joy.

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  10. I am so sorry you are going through this period of the blues and blahs Sharon....but haven't we all (truthfully?) been there? I am always so saddened by it, but it passes! Maybe it's time (for a change!) for YOU to be encouraged instead of always being the one to encourage! :) God has armed you with strength for this battle because of your amazing faith and love dear friend; I know you will push through this down time in your life and remember who is in charge of bringing you fullness of joy!! Praying for you! :)

    Bunches of hugs!!!
    Denise

    BTW...love, love your acrostics!

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  11. Hi Sharon, Spot on, I am so good at playing these games too. Thank you for sharing this. God Bless

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  12. Ouch - I play those games and I never win! Guess I need to just NOT play and be the party pooper God is calling me to be. Yes, sometimes not playing along is the only survival tactic. So, while winter here in Jersey has been pretty nasty and I am wont to make a myriad of excuses for staying closed up indoors - I need to let a little springtime open the Joy doors. I am not in a season of mourning as you, dear friend - which will contribute to the heaviness you feel - but, there is a lethargy that settles in me and I need to get beyond it. Purpose to live like the flowers are blooming despite the gray cold outside. I am tired of the snow. But, out my window, as it falls today, I choose to play God's Grace and Gratitude Game. Aye - 'tis right lovely out there, 'tis at that . . .
    Joy!
    Kathy

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  13. Sighing...
    What happened to my comment? I just made it, and it isn't here.

    I can't write it all out again. I'll just say that 1. You described me perfectly, and 2. I need to follow your advice.

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  14. I'm so thankful we have God. If not, we'd be in deep despair with no hope or joy.

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  15. Downright INSPIRING!
    Your words are grace to me today, and I am thanking God for you.
    (visiting from the FaithJam, good to meet you, Sharon!)

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  16. I love how you've let God shine in through your past writings, how you don't want to settle for defeat, how you want to continue to press on and in until you make it to Joy. May you feel surrounded by His presence today.

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  17. Thank you for writing anyway, Sharon. I'm sorry you're having the blahs. I'm sure you miss your dad a lot. But how beautifully you end this post - "And in Him, Jesus Only You, I can find something that I'm not feeling naturally…"

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  18. Sharon, hugs and prayers to you, my sister. May God refresh you.

    Your "what if" game post is one that I will come back and re-read on a day that I am having the blahs (I get that malady, too!).

    Thanks for linking up at Thought-Provoking Thursday!

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  19. Oh sweet friend, you've nailed it! So glad you re-wrote that post because it was one I needed too. And I think he is trying to play that game specifically because our word for the year is JOY. He's trying, but we WIN. I'm so praying for you and thankful that we are on this JOY journey together. Wish I could give you a big hug. Love you.

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  20. When we recognize where the game is going, it is up to us (and our casting of care on the Lord) to declare a positive end instead of negative. When my dad passed away, and I was alone with my husband I began to weep and I expected some comfort from my hubby. Instead I heard these words, "Your dad is with Jesus and your tears are just because you are feeling sorry for yourself." I was a bit taken back by those words, but I have never forgotten them. I was sad because of me and my loss, not having joy because of my dad's gain. Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story."

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  21. have been learning in those dry times how the Lord can so easily blow away the chaff of our lives so we become that well watered soul. no longer distracted by our dryness and more aware of the working of His hand in our lives. it's a tough place to be but I think every place we go through has value and an opportunity to learn and grow.

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  22. choosing joy with you - in the middle of the "blah"

    He knows where you are, will love you through it!

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  23. I get this Sharon. I used to ask why all the time....why me. And then a friend said, stop asking why. The why's kept me stuck...they kept me back from moving forward. I had to let it go...the whys....why did I survive when my friends didn't.

    I thing it's great that you get what's happening to you. You see it. And He's there in your corner....He knows and He promises to complete the work He started. He'll help you get the joy back.

    Sharon I think you've been through a lot in the past little while....moving away from friends and familiar stuff...caring for your parents...your dad passing......I think it's human to feel what you feel. Stay strong okay....in your corner routing for you. .



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  24. You know, friend, sometimes you just have to let yourself go with the grief, to go ahead and sit in those ashes. Losing a loved one is hard, hard, hard. You can still have inner joy in the midst of it, but don't be too hard on yourself for not feeling it yet. In time, this will pass... but the sadness will often come back. Go easy on yourself. Sending love and prayers.

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  25. Blessings Sharon ... as always, your words illumine, pierce and inspire my heart, my mind and my spirit ... but when I read your title, I thought the same thing?

    1st for you and J.O.Y. and then for mine H.O.P.E. (H.U.G.-Hope Unto Grace) and 2nd: I love your acrostic dictionary and your explanation of this "what if" game; 3rd: you are entitled to grieve however you need and for however long you need;
    4th: Jesus (God) knew all of this when our WORD was birthed inside of us;
    5th: He has a purpose and a plan but you already know this and once again have found and done a beautiful rewrite, putting this in context of current life events and circumstances, with a powerful spiritual application;
    6th: shoulds and coulds and woulds and even mights ... certainly change the course of life and history
    7th: I believe "blahs" or writing blocks have a way of making us dig deeper; feel when we're numb or in shock or just piecing the pieces together trying to make sense and go on with life like we once knew it, but somehow it's markably changed, different and that ache or emptiness or lack really strikes an internal chord and after we've given and given; we just don't know how to sit, rest or receive ... and we kinda go into this mode; sometimes to self-protect; sometimes to elude; other times to deal or confront or escape ...

    I needed all your MOVES and truly need to get past "living in defeat" or without "hope" or JOY in your case! Once again, your message inspires me and IF we have JESUS, what else do we need?

    Thanks and a BIG HUG ... hope you can enjoy a wonderful or rest filled weekend
    Peggy

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  26. I have been there all to often. I am actually coming out and stripping that blanket of blah off. But it isn't easy. I always dread this when I go through it but once coming out of the dry and dark land I can look back and see how God really carried me. It makes me thankful that I know him. When so many don't. Loved the post.

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  27. Ugh. Those pesky blahs. I've experienced the same thing at times and the enemy has a heyday since I'm all about joy. I'm praying for you...spring is on the way!

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  28. "should" "could" "living in defeat".....Wow! You hit the nail on the head! Sounds like you and I sometimes use the same dictionary.

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  29. Those shoulds and coulds can certainly weigh us down Sharon. Hope you get feeling more cheery soon.

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  30. I am thankful you wrote today. Praying God frees you for the "should have's" and "could have's" this week. You are a blessing!

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  31. I always relate to so much to what you write, Sharon. I know the cloud you're talking about here so well. And I know all about those coulds and shoulds. Thanks for speaking from the heart as always - it really encourages me.
    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

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  32. When did you change your name to Susan? (lol- comment #3?)
    I miss you- so glad that you are continuing to write and create!

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  33. Hi Sharon -

    Yes, checkmate, we win!

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!