Experiencing the Joy Filled Life

I have been continually reminded lately at how fast life moves. Projects and plans that seemed months away are now rapidly approaching. I’ve already passed some huge milestones in my career that I had been anticipating for months. What felt like the never-ending winter is giving way to spring. My daughter’s 16th birthday is only two more months away. Right after that both of my boys graduate, one from high school and the other from college. Life is full. It is good.

There have been some hard moments too. There was a day in January when I was looking at all that was coming towards me on the calendar. It completely overwhelmed me and I ended up sitting on the kitchen counter in tears. There have been moments where all I could do was survive the day, hoping it would pass quickly because of the sadness I felt. I don’t like those days so much.

I’ve had a couple a-ha moments in the past few weeks that have caused me to slow down and look at where I’m finding joy. I have been slowly reading a book with other staff members and one paragraph in our current chapter keeps jumping out at me. Peter Scazzero, in The Emotionally Healthy Leader, talks about paying attention to our emotions of the day in order to listen to God. He says this:

Consolations are those experiences that fill us with joy, life, energy, and peace. Desolations are those that drain us and feel like death. Consolations connect us more deeply with God, ourselves, and others. Desolations disconnect us.

This made me really think about what brings me joy, what fills me with peace, and how do those moments and experiences connect me to God. Then I considered those things that just drain me and fill me with anxiety. Those moments that leave me feeling incredibly disconnected not only from God, but also from those around me that I long to be connected with. I don’t want to live in anxiety and fear. I don’t want to be rushing through moments or withholding my time and presence because of fear. I want to make room in my life for more joy. I want to smile and enjoy each moment that He brings me, rather than rushing to the next thing, situation, or person. I want to be present.

The next a-ha moment came during a recent dinner with friends. One person said they really try to never use the word “busy” or “tired”. Wow. Both of those could describe my last several months. Life is full, but I don’t want to be so busy that I miss out on the blessings and joy right in front of me. I don’t want to rush through everything so fast just to arrive completely worn out on the other end, missing all of the good along the way. Missing the people God has placed in my life.

I don’t have all of this figured out yet, because there are really full seasons of life. And as a single mama to two teens at home, well, we’re always going a lot of directions. I don’t want to trade it and I don’t want to rush through it, because they’ll be gone before too long. I don’t want to miss these moments with them because I was too busy and then too tired. I also don’t want to miss moments with friends or not be included in activities because I’m perceived as too busy. Busy is not an honor badge. Busy is not what I want my life to reflect.

I’m working to pause, consider all that is being asked of me, then discern the best use of my time. I’m paying attention to what brings me joy, makes me smile and laugh, and makes me feel alive. Those moments that God brings, I want to hold them close and be incredibly present in them. Life is full and moving fast, but right now, I’m feeling a great sense of peace and joy. I want to be present with people and bring joy to them as well.

I pray that for you too. Consider the moments in your day and how you’re experiencing them. Are there things you need to let go of? Ideas, attitudes, friendships, distractions that pull you deeper into fear, drain you of life, and keep you too busy? Or are you present in this moment, breathing in deeply and sensing peace and joy that can be yours? May you find renewed energy and life as you seek and experience deep joy in your own life and with others.

Spring Table

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