Lately God has been reminding me the importance of embracing His joy as my strength, and of being joyful. And so many people have commented how the most inspiring people they know are always joyful.
I find this to be beautiful, but there are times I struggle with it so much. Depression and anxiety are not things you can just decide to stop feeling. Yesterday I was so anxious and I was trying so hard to put my trust in Abba, to praise Him, to ask Him for peace, to be joyful. But the anxiety did not go away. Soon I was on the swing out back just sobbing. How can I be authentic when I’m struggling this much, and really and truly trust Him at the same time? How can I be joyful without just pretending to push my feelings aside? Sometimes the joy is there for the taking and I have to make a choice, however difficult, to embrace it. Other times I just can’t. I poured all this out to Abba, despairing a bit that it didn’t seem possible for me to be that joyful person whom people are so inspired by, the joyful person I knew God was asking me to be. I begged Abba for wisdom.
Mom gave me a book about anxiety. I didn’t really have any particular expectations. Not long after I went inside, I opened it, not looking for answers, just wanting to grasp onto something that was a sign of love from my mom. And this is what I read: “In His infinite wisdom He wants each of us to examine our emotions. To deny our true feelings is to deceive ourselves. Deceit is wrong; it’s a lie. The Holy Spirit uses anxiety to tug at our attention and tell us that something needs to be aired. Anxiety becomes similar to a smoke signal that alerts us to a problem smoldering under the surface.”
I was blown away for the millionth time that God would answer my pleas so soon and so perfectly. He helped me to see that He’s going to teach me how to be that joyful person; He doesn’t expect me to have arrived yet. And it is possible. And my emotions aren’t bad, or to be ignored or stifled, but they are good even if they seem to be negative–even if they seem to counter joy. I can learn how to let them bring me to joy, and I know Abba will help me because He always does if I ask Him for help and look for His help.
He wants me to be a joyful person. But He’s not just going to demand it. He’s going to help me and show me how.