Sunday, February 1, 2015

Choosing & Loosing Joy

Last year was rougher than I thought it would be.

 In January of 2014 I felt the Lord teaching me a lot about Joy. True Joy. Joy not based on any circumstances, but on choice. Every day its a choice to be joyful. I've saw a quote later in the year - "Today I Choose Joy"

(LaurenConrad.com via Pinterest)

Our circumstances can change in the drop of the hat - trust me. 
In January, I had no idea I would be out of Anderson in August. I wanted to move so badly, but made a decision to choose Joy each and everyday. 

January, February, and March were amazing. Living in full Joy. In February I felt I could start my dream job and stay in Anderson and be so happy. In March I was invited to move to Atlanta with my current roommates. As I began the process of moving to Atlanta, I got so focused on the future that I began to be discouraged in the present. I was so ready to leave, move on, and start the next stage that my Joy was dwindling. Mom, Dad, and I discussed in great detail my life. That may have been the first time I had ever admitted to them that I felt like a failure. It wasn't a fun conversation to have. They really encouraged me to let go of my fears and surrender control to the Lord. 

When you are struggling with the Lord, that's the last thing you want to hear, but probably the thing you need to hear the most. 

(via Pinterest)

I quit my part-time job in April, I think, and began working full-time back for my mom. A great job, but still in a holding pattern. In May, I began taking a sewing class (which I loved) and wrecked my car (which I loved),  week later in June, my Big Buddy (whom I LOVED) passed away. 

I think that's what did me in. I didn't realize that I hadn't been processing his death until I moved away. The night before I moved I'm pretty sure I had my first ever panic attack. I've never felt so, so - I don't even know how to describe it. But I could barely talk, or even breathe because I  was crying so hard. I started questioning everything. Mom and Dad again talked with me and prayed for the peace I once had about the move (seriously have amazing parents!). 

The next day they moved me to Atlanta. I should've been celebrating with my roommates that night but instead I was still struggling with a bunch of things, and crawled in bed early to cry myself to sleep. That was the first of many nights I cried, and nightmares would follow in the months to come. 

As I settled in Atlanta, the fears, doubts, struggles continued to wage war on my mind & dreams. I knew I needed community, so I was going to 2 different community groups at 2 different churches. Instead of spending time with the Lord, I was trying to join church groups to draw closer to Him. Then I began traveling a lot on weekends, and spent less and less time with Him. My journals from years past can tell you exactly what happens when I don't spend time with Him - I get stressed, overwhelmed, confused. 

This time was worse than ever. The nightmares were horrible. I tried talking to Mom and Dad again but would always end up crying uncontrollably. Then the worst happened. My grandma had a heart attack. It rocked my world even more - that was one of my nightmares coming to life. As I began to share different parts of my story and my fears with my family, roommates, and small group I knew what the problem was. 

I was choosing doubt and fear over truth and Joy. 

Doubt and fear made me nervous every time I left the house and got into my car. A wrecked car in May, fender benders in October and December, two busted tires in November, and a nail in a tire in January didn't help much. But nevertheless, I was worried. If a family member didn't respond quick enough to a text, I'd assume the next message was some stranger telling me they were lying in a ditch somewhere. Which was far from the truth.

I thought I was crazy to let something 'silly' control my life. But it felt so real. 
Fear grips your hearts, ladies, and it holds on tight. 

Choosing Joy and Truth releases fear.

(LaurenConrad.com via Pinterest)

I love this quote above because of how true it is. Choosing Joy in January, February, and March didn't mean I would automatically choose it in October. 

After many days and nights struggling with my fears and doubts I decided things needed changing. I've been given life to live, not life to fear. As I laid in bed one night, I poured it all out to Him - my fears, doubts, struggles, insecurities. So much was holding me back that I was nearly sick to my stomach and couldn't sleep all night. 

The next day I decided I needed to purchase the weekly scripture cards through the Scarlet & Gold Shop by Redeemed Girl. I knew it would take a few weeks to come in the mail and I would be a few weeks behind, but it was something I knew I needed to do. I thought I could just write my own memory verses on index cards, but I knew that that would never happen, and that spending the extra money was worth it to restore my relationship with Him. 

I got home after work fully intending on purchasing the cards. I love checking the mail. I love handwritten, snail mail. 

Y'all....

...those memory cards showed up in my mail box that day! Wrapped in pretty paper with MY name written on top. A new friend of mine knew my struggles and felt the Lord telling her that I needed Truth in my life. He proved, again, to me that He is faithful and knows exactly what I need & when I needed it. 

I needed Truth and to choose Joy. 
I needed to see His faithfulness one more time. 

Choosing Joy is such a daily thing. There are so many 'interruptions' in life. One little thing can change my mood from Joy-filled to annoyed and frustrated.

So I just want to encourage you as I encourage myself to

Daily Choose Joy!