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Getting used to living with joy
"Life would be so much better if only I had this."
"Life will be perfect when I can do that."
"I really wish my life was more like hers, then things would be perfect."
How often do we push off goodness to some future date? How often do we limit the amount of goodness and satisfaction we let ourselves feel right now? I speak from experience, as someone who's done this a lot.
I still remember a time when I was 14 years old. I saw myself as kind of a weird kid. Although I always had many friends, I had very low self esteem. My friends all seemed to have everything together. Even the people I didn't like seemed to have things together. But I thought I was different. I remember sitting in my homeroom period one morning, thinking to myself with such an intense despair characteristic of middle school, "I'll probably never have a girlfriend." I didn't like that verdict. In fact, I hated it. But I was resigned to just accept it as a fact of life -- because after all, I was not as cool or popular or good-looking as most of those other guys, right?
Oh, 14-year old angst. Ha!
As I was sitting there moping in my pit of dark teenage despair, something incredible happened. A girl passed me a note, asking if I wanted to date her. Admittedly, I had never before noticed this girl, prior to receiving that note. I knew absolutely nothing about her. But you'd better believe I replied with a resounding "yes"! (after a little bit of internal deliberation)
Except... I had no idea what to do after that! I had spent so much time and energy convincing myself that I would probably never date, that when all of a sudden I was dating someone, I felt pretty ill-prepared. I didn't know what to do! I still remember a few telephone conversations that were less "conversation" and more "silence while neither one of us knows what to say." So maybe not all matches were made in heaven!
I look back on experiences like that fondly, and have to laugh at myself. I've come to realize that God loves to surprise us. Right in that moment, when I was so sure that I was totally and completely unloveable, God broke right through that dark spell in the form of my first girlfriend. That relationship, like most middle school and high school relationships, didn't last very long. But even as more of those came and went through the years, I started to hear, little by little, more of that constant whisper that is being spoken to all of us:
"You are worthy."
"You are loveable."
"You are so loved."
Listen for it; it's there. Right in those moments when we're so sure it isn't and that life is hopeless... you might just be in for a surprise. God loves to show up in ways that catch us completely off guard. I think it makes Him laugh. It makes me laugh! (In retrospect, anyway.) And it sure makes things more interesting.
Now here's a fun exercise for you: consider all the time you currently spend complaining about all the things you're missing -- all the time you spend worrying that things might never work out. If you spent even half that amount of time, instead, practicing for how things will be when they do work out, what kind of a difference would that make?
I encourage you to do just that. Spend less time worrying, and less thought and speech into planning for the worst. Start getting used to living with joy. Make room for it in your life. Don't act like someone who's a million miles away from their destination; start acting like someone who's already arrived. Practice living with joy rather than fearing it. Because you deserve it.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
"Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need."
-Mary Baker Eddy