We had a great time last weekend visiting Gdynsk. A mentor of all of ours came to spend time and connect and see how we were doing. It was freezing there but we were able to keep warm in cozy blankets and sleep well into the morning. What a treat, with my three kids at home I am NEVER able to do that! hahaha We were able to focus on church planting, encourage each other with ideas and silliness, drink tons of coffee, have a spontaneous baptism (hurray!) and stayed up late into the night laughing. It was wonderful. We have such a great group of solid loving people.
I recently had to go to a meeting which I did NOT want to go to AT ALL. I added stress upon stress thinking and imagining all the things that have been said in similar meetings and caused myself a stress migraine. Lame.
I don’t know if you do this but I talk to myself. Not all the time out loud, but yeah. So I began to tell myself that you’ve got to power up (not those words but basically) and go into that meeting with huge walls around myself so that the failure feelings of the past wouldn’t wound me this time.
All of a sudden God gave me two pictures. I could go into the meeting alone with an inflatable suit on that gave me huge muscles and made me walk like I was tough. I had this picture of myself walking into the meeting facing my opponents. Ready for their comments. And also looking ridiculous. However, I then received a picture of myself on the back of Jesus going into the meeting. I was like one of those teeny cute baby monkeys that cling to their mothers backs. That the strength walking into the meeting shouldn’t be my own (imaginary) strength but actually God’s. I found this incredibly reassuring and like I didn’t have to put any pressure on myself. Just knowing that He was walking in first and would take the bulk of what would be said was relieving to say the least.
If you find yourself in a situation that you would automatically gear up for, pump yourself up or create defensive walls around yourself for protection just know that there is such a better way. It’s not up to you or me.
Matthew 11:28 MSG
“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Also, the meeting went better than I thought! I left without feeling attacked or incredibly discouraged. Instead I could see that there was clear communication and possible steps to be taken in the future. A partnership in a sense. So progress! 🙂
Growing up, we went to church and learned that ‘the JOY of the Lord shall be your strength”. I had no idea what that meant as a kid/teenager. I assumed that it meant that if you’re happy all the time- even in hard seasons of life- that that joy will bring you strength to get through it. And I used to put pressure on myself to always be happy and ‘joyful’. But that level of hyper-ness was too exhausting.
Now that I’m a bit older, I’m starting to realize that there are many different types of JOY. Like shades of blue or yellow. The dictionary describes JOY as: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
I have found great JOY after finishing a great book/Netflix series, watching my children make pancakes, photography, holding hands with my husband and traveling to new countries. In these examples, it would be odd if I suddenly screamed and jump for JOY. My kids and husband would look at me with big eyes and wonder if I finally went crazy. But I felt extreme happiness and pleasure at each of these examples. Real pure joy. It just looked different.
When I went through a hard time a couple months ago, I didn’t feel like I had a constant wave of JOY to make me feel better. But rather, I felt like I was in the middle of a huge lake and each small moment of happiness was like a stone that I could stand on. Looking back I could see a stone path that I had walked on to get back to shore.
May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.