"I've got that Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy down in my heart...WHERE?...Down in my heart to stay!" You've heard it, you've sung it...
The first time Joy was really focused on in a talk and it really clicked for me was at a Beth Moore conference over 2 years ago. Beth talked about never letting someone steal your Joy. Simple right? Don't allow someone to make me sad, angry, whatever...choose differently..choose to be happy. Umm...A little bit easier said than done. Actually...a lot easier said than done!
I have said this many times....I adore my relationships...all relationships! I am so in love with my husband...every hour of every day. I wake up and choose him over and over...I thank God for him! I can't really express the amount of love I have for my children, all three. It makes me cry trying to think of the right words to express this love. I love my parents and I am so grateful to them for every sacrifice, every mistake, every gift, everything! I love my sisters...oh my goodness do I love my sisters...truly gifts from above and in such different ways! And lastly, I love the people I call my friends! And this is where my joy is stolen...
I have struggled for over a year now with a relationship that went from such Joy...maybe even go as far as Radiant Joy...to hurt, sadness, anger, regret, doubt...FEAR! I have battled and prayed...I have pleaded for clarity and resolve. I have even begged...begged I tell you...for these feelings to be gone! My Joy from this relationship was stolen by my emotions and was stealing Joy from every aspect of my life....every single one. The Devil is funny like that. He finds a way to make his evil way into our hearts and he just builds and grows until we finally say enough and lay our issues at the foot of the Cross and give them to God. JOY...what an Amazing and Powerful God!
Before going into this weekend, I made a promise to myself that I was ridding myself of this relationship...the relationship to my emotions...the ones that were stealing my joy, especially the joy in this friendship.
And boy did God have something in store for me! He kind of has a "Go Big or Go Home" way of moving in my heart...
Amen, Amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy, that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. ~John 16:20-22
Don't you just love when scripture speaks directly at you...I mean IN YOUR FACE at you!?! I sure do. We question all the time God's presence and timing...and it is in these moments I am beyond confident He is always present, always near, in different ways, at different times...but always!
So back to stealing of joy...what or who steals your joy? It could be a boyfriend that just doesn't treat you right but you are scared to break up with because your clock is ticking and you so badly want to be married. It could be the people at Church who judge you and ultimately push you completely out. It could be the woman who has promised your husband things that only you as his wife should be promising. It could be your child who has no hope, no drive, no will to do good. It could be an addiction, an eating disorder, lies told to you as a child, rape, abuse, a job. Or in my case...it could be a friendship that you so desperately want to make work, but is just not meant to be...where is your joy stolen?
"Hardships are opportunity for Sheer Joy!"
So my joy was stolen...the devil made an awesome home in my heart over this last year. I struggled...it showed. The devil planted so many lies in my head, so many insecurities. Maybe I wasn't a good friend, maybe I didn't deserve good people in my life, maybe I shouldn't put so much of my heart into my relationships with other woman, maybe having girlfriends is just not worth it...these relationships only cause pain...all lies!
I decided to give it to the Lord. After a year of trying to solve this on my own, I gave it up. You know you need the Lord when something in your life causes you to sin...and boy did this relationship cause me to sin. Friday night...I confessed my sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and immediately after...I began to feel peace. For anyone who is not Catholic...I completely understand the confusion with this Sacrament...but for those who have experienced the absolution it brings...it is REAL and a Gift from God!
My heart began to heal and it was through the rest of the weekend that things became very clear to me. And the peace I feel now is resounding!
I was turning to this relationship for my happiness and when that failed, which it will because we are only human, I broke down instead of turning to My God for my happiness! Instead of being grateful for all this friend had done for me, I focused on the hurt I was feeling, the lies I was being told. Instead of accepting that sometimes God puts people into our lives for specific reasons, I dwelled on the fact that a relationship falling apart was all my fault. Instead of praising God for this amazing person, I became bitter and angry and sinned, over and over again!
"If you pray, why worry and if you worry, why pray."
With unbelievable confidence, I can say how blessed and grateful I am for this relationship that I have been writing about and I thank God for the beauty of this woman....and even though I will always continue to pray for this relationship...I know that only God will bring her back into my life in His perfect timing!
This weekend was full of prayer and God has answered my prayer and I am at peace! Truthfully, at peace!
We ended the retreat with Mass...oh how I love Mass! One of the songs we sang just spoke to my Soul...well really it calmed my Soul.
Scars and Struggles on the Way
But with Joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did you leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, you are faithful!
Joy is the net of Love by which we catch Souls ~Mother Teresa