Most of us have never met someone who thought it was more fun to be sad than happy.
The human race longs for happiness, but few of us know that happiness is not the thing to strive for. If it was, some of us wouldn’t stand a fighting chance of experiencing joy.
As a teen, I remember watching an elderly man who had lost everything—wife and home—and now lived alone, working as a barber. He had the best and kindest smile, along with the most joyful outlook on life.
I was fascinated. When I got married, he gave one of the most generous gifts even though he had little. Almost nineteen years later, every time I turn on my Kitchen Aid mixer, I think of him. That absolute peace in spite of his blown apart world had to come from something.
God took me on a journey of discovering JOY when my life fell apart and all I could do was weep. I learned, in those months, that because I knew sorrow, I was now able to touch JOY.
Finding my space with God became a touch of heaven on earth, where my soul was made free to experience something far greater than anything a human could offer.
Finding this with God makes for a better life than having a perfect life without this touch of the Spirit.
Eternity is meant to inhabit your soul, now.
When the Spirit of God sets your soul ablaze, heaven starts long before death. Eternity invites itself into your soul, here and now, only to continue forever when you die.
When I see this, I see value on everyone around me.
When I experience this, I find joy in spite of circumstances. It is a powerful, holy Presence that steadies you, keeps you, inspires you, and allows you to walk with power even as you weep.
Hang onto that Presence, and you’ll see that Hope is still alive. Joy is still here. And love is still beautiful.
Things of the Spirit are always difficult to put into words, but let me just say this: The pathway to JOY is to stop grasping for happiness. Joy comes when you realize that inner satisfaction isn’t based on who or what’s around you. Your value and dignity are so much greater than that.
What if it takes a person devaluing and discarding you to help you understand how valued, kept, and loved you truly are?
What if the prop of people has replaced your utter need of resting your soul on the PERSON of Christ—and when the prop falls away, your soul rests in the only place it was ever created to find purpose and dignity?
As St. Augustine says, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
I can hear that all day long, but not experience the truth of it until I walk in what feels like the valley of the shadow of death. Year after year after year can find us grasping for happiness from people, friends, and things—until we become weary of our quest and anchor our minds in Someone constantly faithful.
What if even what I’m doing for God becomes a prop?
What if I’m in love with working for Christ more than I’m in love with Christ Himself?
For some people, even doctrine becomes more important than the Divine.
I’m here to say that when you find yourself stripped is only when you find your God sufficient beyond your wildest dreams.
Sisters, even a marriage that leaves you wanting can be the means to your soul finding what it truly wanted all along. You don’t need your husband to be happily perfect in order to be perfectly happy. Or should I say, rather than be perfectly happy, you’ll be perfected in JOY.
I want us to see that salvation means being saved from the actions of others as much as it means being saved from our own sin. Your husband can have gaping needs that leave you wanting, but I promise you, if you lean into Jesus and learn from Him what true freedom is, you’ll be surprised at the gift of Joy in spite of it all.
Our value as women is internal and with Jesus, not external and with humans. We need relationship and we need voice, but we have that with God even when people don’t give it to us. And when we get it with God, suddenly people can no longer keep it from us. This is a powerful, holy experience that will change our lives entirely.
You can have the best family photo shoot and the most wonderful, thoughtful husband, you can eat all the kale and lift all the weights, have the cutest kids and the yearly shopping trip with your mom—but if you lean into external things for JOY, you will never find it.
You are worth so much more. You get to walk around a messy kitchen with dignity of soul, get to have unmet needs fully met with Jesus, get to know the thrill of value, purpose, and grace. And I’m here to say, no matter what.
Once you find internal satisfaction, you’ll live differently, hold your head erect, and enjoy all the beautiful things of life far more than before. Because when you’re no longer dependent on things for your happiness, they suddenly become an even greater avenue for your JOY.
We get to enjoy what we refuse to depend on. No longer grasping, all of it becomes gifting. No longer desperate, we now become divinely equipped to rest in our identity that nothing and no one can take away.
Women like this are real queens. They get to use their voice, exercise their gifts, and live fully without becoming obnoxious, grasping for the approval of others or demanding perfection in those who surround them. (Girl, that includes your husband.)
A queen lives with dignity in body, soul, and spirit.
As Ann Voskamp inspired me many years ago, life is all about daring to live fully, right where we are. And in this November month of Thanksgiving, I’m most grateful for the Ultimate Gift Who helps me enjoy Himself most of all.
Cheers to all women who dare to live!