The Journey to Joy

The Journey to Joy

I have always been hard on myself. For some reason, it’s just the way I’m wired, or rather, the way I have become wired. I’m critical- and not in the constructive way- and I get caught up in the details to the point of obsession. Questions circle around my mind like:

  • “Why did you have to look like that when you said it?”
  • “Why didn’t you finish your thought? Now, they think you’re a jerk.”
  • “You should have waited. You just weren’t ready.”
  • “Ugh! Get your life!”

I’m not sure if there is anyone out there who is willing to admit that they deal with some of the same thoughts, but I know I’m not alone because we talk-in person, all the time, and I truly believe God wants to set us free from that type of thinking. It’s not helping. It’s not helping us to choose presence and it’s not helping the power God wants to extend us in the positions He given us to steward.

When I speak to girls and women, I always remind them that our opinions of ourselves influence the way that we interact with others. For instance, when we’re happy and pleased with ourselves, we show up to serve the world in the same way. On the flipside, when we’re upset with ourselves and overly critical, we’re usually overly critical of others. I know that you know it, too, but my question is: have you thought about the way your opinion of yourself influences your interactions with God?

When I’m overly critical of myself, I find myself apologizing to Him a lot. A lot, a lot. I apologize for the things that I thought, the way that I executed that thing, the things I said which could have been covered in grace more adequately, and the things I wish I’d done differently. It doesn’t help my opinion of myself at all. In fact, it doesn’t help my work ethic either. We should definitely ask for forgiveness when we are rebellious or hurtful to others, but I want us to think about whether or not our obsession with forgiveness is fueling our insecurities and negativity? I’m stepping lightly here because forgiveness gave me a reason to live, but, we are saved by grace, not works.

There are way too many of us living beneath our means, our potential, our permission, and our access. We’ve allowed our insecurities to identify us and serve as excuses which have kept us from moving forward for far too long, and it ends now. Lately, God has placed two scriptures on my heart to serve as encouragement to move me beyond the criticism and I want to ask you to do more than just read them. Visualize them in action.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.

Psalm 37:23

Have you ever written something that brought you intense pleasure, or at least happiness, when you wrote it? Do you remember the smile that curved the sides of your lips upward and the brightness within your eyes as you thought about the recipient? That’s the image that I get when I read Psalm 37:23. I feel Him smiling while He’s directing my steps. I don’t feel any worry lines or frowns. I don’t feel any anger or, even criticism. I just feel delight, happiness, joy.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…

Zechariah 4:10a-b

What does someone look like when they rejoice? They’re usually bringing out the party hats and icing the cake with anticipation of the party. They’re usually inviting others to witness the special event and thinking of things they can say to share their happiness with their guest of honor. Imagine the joy of The Father when you begin the work! He’s not thinking of what you could have done better or obsessing over the little things that you weren’t able to get together. He’s just excited-yes, excited-that you started! Stop overanalyzing everything and enjoy the outpouring of the confetti God wants to share with you when you get started!

We are going to stop allowing our negativity to form our opinions of what He’s thinking, and we are going to start embracing the truth. The truth is that it’s time to start that thing that’s always been in your heart. It’s time to return to that dream. It’s time to continue putting one foot in front of the other. Difference is, this time we’re going to allow love to cover our work. We are going to ask Holy Spirit to show us to how to enjoy the journey because we are journeying to meet Him in that place that He’s prepared for us-that joyful place. I love you all, and I am here on this journey toward joy with you.

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