Reconnecting to God, Rediscovering Joy
I have been having a hard time finding inspiration for my blog this month. Like some of you I am tired, burned out, overwhelmed. In this season of fatigue, though, I am starting to see glimpses of growth and redemption. The fall colors, which are here every year, seem a little more radiant to me. The ability to walk in the forest near my home feels like a more special blessing. I never intentionally blocked God out of my life, but I feel an awakening to joy around me that seems to result from unplugging bit by bit from the world and spending more intentional time with God. I am not sure I have enough wisdom yet to share this in a blog post but in an effort to be obedient to God and to keep my commitment to this blog, I will write what I have come up with, hoping this will inspire somebody, somewhere.
The Bible seems to define joy as being in close relationship to God. When I can't find joy in my life, it follows that it is harder to hear His voice. I don't think joy ever goes missing, but we stop noticing the joyful moments as we stop paying attention. This is easy to do as busy moms but perhaps even easier for our kids who have never known a disconnected world.
For me, this is a season of trying to plug back in to God so I can notice His print on my life and therefore feel joy. My last post was a glimpse of this, noticing the beauty and variety of the world. I think it is a mistake to believe we need to go somewhere different to find joy. When I read Corrie ten Boom's book The Hiding Place, I was amazed how she found God, and therefore joy, in body lice of the concentration camp. The threat of lice kept the guards out of the bunks and allowed the prisoners to share and worship Jesus. She was not happy in this situation, but she saw God, belonged to Him, found her identity in Him, and therefore was joyful in her itchy misery. If there was joy in the concentration camp, surely we can find joy here. So how do we do it as moms and how do we pass this on to our children?
First, we need to stay connected to God. I do this by reading the Bible, either myself or with the Dwell app, nearly every morning. I listen to worship music on my way in to work to start my day thinking of God. As I walk from my car in to see my patients, I pray for the day: that I will be a good physician, a good listener, that I will have the knowledge to help whatever walks through the door that day. I try to make time to journal as this is where God inspires me. I attempt to have some silence during my day where I very intentionally pray or contemplate God. If my mind is on God, I will notice Him more, hear His subtle voice, see His mark on my life. When tuned in, I more easily discover how one thing leads to another, enriching and expanding my life in unexpected ways. This is joy, how each beautiful piece of the puzzle works together to create a life more fantastic than any one piece can be. I hope eventually to be in a position to look at God's grand plan for the universe and see not only the unfolding of the entire puzzle but also how integral each little piece was to His mission.
For kids, we need to teach about this connection to deeper things. Read the Bible to and with them. Take time to notice the beauty and the fun of the world. Be intentional about building their identities in Christ and pointing out joyful things to them. "I know God made you curious so I loved watching you ask all those great questions today." When you have a hard day, or they do, put on a song and dance together or read a book, or whatever makes sure they know that BEING with them is what is going to help turn the day around as you build positive memories together. Share some of that overflowing joy with a neighbor. Pick some flowers, bake some cookies, make a card just because.Teach them to reach out, to give, to connect. They will spread joy and then will feel more joy themselves.
Please share with my your thoughts on joy. How to you cultivate this with your children, in yourselves? Has it been more challenging to be joyful in the Covid era? Thank you for your support in the months when I am developing my ideas just as much as in the months when my writing is stronger.