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.