November 21, 2015

Finding Joy in the Lord

Today is Saturday, November 21, 2015, and I have made a conscious decision to enjoy every day God has given to me. I often don't think about enjoying my day; rather, I think about 'getting through' my day. But today is different. I have decided that it is up to me to choose how to accept each day that has been given to me. Today, I choose life (as Joshua said to the Israelites long, long ago), but today I also choose to enjoy life. I have been given a great gift and that great gift is the blessing of being alive and of living fully in His grace, His mercy, and His love. Today, then, I choose to be filled with joy, to spread joy, and to cherish joy because today I am reminded of all the blessings God has poured out in my life, and all the wonderful good things He is doing in me and through me as He works His plans together for my good (Romans 8:28). God is good, He is good, and today, I give Him praise for His goodness toward me. Selah!

I woke up this morning leisurely. I am suffering from some mild stomach distress, but overall, I feel good. I have a lot on my plate to accomplish today, yet I am choosing to remain hopeful and optimistic about what I can and cannot do today. My plan is to tackle my major paper, which is due on Wednesday. I need to make good progress on it, and praise be to God, I will turn in something solid for my final grade. The issue, of course, is that I am feeling "less than X" today. I put an "X" in there because it just means I am feeling less than my best, less than adequate, less than competent, etc. Yes, I am feeling like I am not good enough (for what you ask?) again, and I promised myself that I wouldn't give into those feelings and thoughts of failure again. Nevertheless, I am feeling let down, and that is feeding my emotions and because I am thinking about my feelings, well, guess what follows (rather naturally?) Yes, I start to feel, to think, and before you know it, I come to believe that my feelings and thoughts are accurate and true. Ack!

In order to move forward, to push through these feelings, I must address the source of them. The only way I can attack the feeling itself is to know what has motivated it or caused it to come to pass.

I think the reason why I feel the way I do is complex. I do think part of it is my feelings of doubt and insecurity rearing their ugly heads. I also think that it has to do with my age, and the fact that I am doing something I always wanted to do, but doing it so late in the game (so to speak). I am feeling like life has passed me by, and that feeling is fueling this sense of "why bother?" I mean, why try to find a full-time job, why try to get published, why try to do this or that thing...if in the end, it will not matter a hill of beans to anyone and it won't permit me to move up or be settled in this career. Sigh!

Taking Control and Choosing Joy

Of course, these are the lies the enemy feeds my mind. The enemy wants to keep me defeated, to make me feel so "less than" today. In truth, however, when you really think about it, you must ask yourself "what is the worst that could happen" and then poof there is a moment of clarity. You see, when I think all these defeatist thoughts, I forget to keep my perspective. I forget to say "so what is the worst thing that could happen to me should I never achieve x, y, or z?" The answer to that question is often the answer that brings hope.

In my view, knowing what the worst possible thing could be will immediately banish the fear from your mind. Further, along with the fear, all doubts and feelings of insecurity and inadequacy follow quickly behind. So for me, when I answer this question, this is what I know for certain. The worst thing that could happen to me is that I might not get a full-time teaching job at the end of my degree program. Yep, this is the worst thing that could happen to me. And, if that did happen, what would I do about it? Well, first of all, I would continue to rely on the Lord and trust that He has something else in mind for me. Second, I would assume that He would provide for me in another way, and third, that whatever He was doing, that it was good, and was all part of His marvelous plan for my life. Thus, in truth, the worst thing really isn't too bad at all. It is just another possibility given the marvelous grace of the Lord.

So then, the worst and the best of things are both in His hand, and therefore, my faith rests in His character, and not in my abilities. Whether good or bad comes to pass today, I know that my Lord has me well-covered regardless. I am good whether He sends me here or there, whether He provides this job or that, and whether He chooses for me to do this thing or that thing. In all things, then, I am able to give Him praise, honor, and glory. He is good, He is so very good to me. Selah!

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