My parents named me Laurel, after the mountain laurel flower, but I've always gone by Laurie. I feel like I've spent my whole life trying to be what other people would find acceptable, and it hasn't been until recent years that I've thought more about how GOD would like me to be. He wants my heart to be seeking after HIM and not the approval of man. So, this is where I will be working out my thoughts, removing the masks (even my nickname!), being real, and making a FREAK of myself! ha ha Any other Jesus Freaks or just freaks in general or even non-freaky people are welcome to read, discuss, encourage, or be encouraged. Welcome to my brain . . . and my heart. :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Where's the Joy?

I remember days, in my early twenties, when I woke up so very heavy-hearted, I could hardly drag myself out of bed.  The pain was so intense, it hovered over me all day and into the night, until a few hours of slumber brought escape.  On the nights my dreams chose to haunt me, there was no rest after all for my weary mind and soul.

Then, I would wake to this pain's smothering fingers once again.  Every day.  For a couple of years.

To this day, I don't know why I was so sad.  But I do know why I didn't have joy.

I didn't have joy because:
  • I equated joy with happiness. But joy is an attitude, while happiness is an emotion.
  • I wasn't praying or reading my Bible much.  At the time, I didn't see the point.
  • I was focusing on what I didn't have that I still wanted. 
  • I had a rebellious heart toward the Lord and toward authority.
  • I was giving in to depression.

I had almost everything I thought I wanted.  I was young, had a wonderful new husband, a good and fulfilling job, family, friends, always things to do.

But nothing is ever enough when you're trying to walk your own way, instead of in step with the Lord.  Nothing is ever enough to satisfy us fully.  Nothing is ever enough to keep sad times away.

No, no, no . . . the sad, unjust, terrifying, heart-wrenching times will find their way to every one of us.  And when you're suffering from depression, as I was, even little troubles can seem insurmountable.  My depression was not a medical problem, as it is for some.  Mine was a spiritual issue I needed to deal with.

And then I did.

I can't explain it in any other way, except the Lord's work in my heart, but, one morning, I woke up and knew what I needed to do.  I determined to FIGHT those waves of anguish, and cling with all my might to true joy.  I fought, and I fought, and I fought, until, on another distant morning, I woke and realized I didn't have to fight anymore.  Joy had become a habit!

Now I have joy almost all of the time because:
  • I understand it's an attitude, something I can nurture regardless of my feelings.
  • I'm reading God's Word daily, and studying it for concentrated periods of time regularly. I now understand it's my life, my breath, my nourishment--vital!! I turn to the Lord in prayer all the time, instead of trying to make it on my own.
  • I've learned gratitude.  I can't begin to explain the difference it has made to choose to be thankful for what I have, instead of focusing on what I think I want.
  • My rebellious heart has softened.  Most of the time. ;)
  • I CHOOSE it.  I choose joy.

Not perfectly.  None of the above have been mastered by me, no siree!  But day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, I'm trying.  As I'm learning and growing and loving my Savior more with each moment I spend with Him, I want to tell anyone who will listen about what I've learned about true joy.

He is worthy.  That's enough.


jtaft7 said...

What a very real, true and honest post. Thanks for sharing this! :) I love blogging....getting to know people and what they have been through. It's so nice to glean from each other, isn't it?

Elizabeth said...

You are amazing! I am so glad you started this blog and are willing to share-thank you!

Laurel/Laurie :) said...

Thanks, Jana--I agree. Blogging, for people like us who enjoy it, is a wonderful way to learn from others. :)

Laurel/Laurie :) said...

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your encouraging words--and for reading in the first place! :) The Lord laid it on my heart to do this. It's not easy, yet kind of "therapeutic!" :)