Be Present to Find Joy [#HUGSlove Series]
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
So often, we struggle, we fight to live just above life's currents so that we are able to, at the very least, breathe as we make it from one day to the next.
That is not the way life is supposed to be.
We are called to be joyful and to find joy even in the most devastating of circumstances.
Chronic Stress Disorder (CSD) often makes it hard for me to see joy and keep joy near. For me, CSD is like having my nerves constantly on fire while they are pricked by millions of the sharpest needles ever created. This is what it feels like when I'm stressing about things that my mind knows are perceived and not real. This feeling is amplified when dealing with stressors that are tangible, immediate.
Despite these feelings and the other issues that cower under the CSD umbrella (anxiety, depression), I do realize that there must be consistent intentionality to the pursuit of joy.
As with anything.
If you want to lose weight, you have to be consistent, intentional of what you eat and how often you move. If you want to save money, you have to be consistent, intentional of how you spend your money.
For me, this means digging into the Word to entrench myself on what it means to be "of joy." It means keeping my senses open to my experiences so that I can be a witness to the moments of joy I find myself in and, more importantly, analyze when I find myself falling away from joy or the seeking of it.
This leads me to a little story I want to tell you of how God allowed me, in the midst of major anxiety and "right now" stress, to be of peace and within His joy.
Last week, I was thinking about perceived and "right now" stress: the what-ifs of situations that may (and usually don't) happen and the energy I give to those moments and the immediate, real-time situations I face and the energy I give to them. I was thinking about how I seriously needed to be present in my living so that I can differentiate between the two types of stress and handle both better.
And while thinking on this, two pressing "right now" stressors entered my life. They both needed immediate attention; my anxiety rose greatly, and my stress levels had my entire body on fire. And yet, there was this eerie calm about me. I will admit, I felt so very defeated in the moment and in life in general. Annihilatory thoughts ran rampant, and yet... the eerie calm was there. To me, this calm was that nothingness before a great storm. Even my mother thought so. When she saw me, fear gripped her. She tried to take me outside because it was so bright and cool; she thought it would "wake me." I went out for a minute, but the light, the "everything I love about a great day" tired me, so I returned to my desk where I sat and rocked in my chair.
A moment later, I looked at the wall before me.
I saw the word "faith" on a plaque and scoffed. Faith in what?
I saw a note I wrote about how Jesus was weary, had wept, had "thirst," and was tempted, like me, but that he was different because he didn't fall to temptation--that I, too, can walk away from temptation like Jesus. I shook my head and chuckled.
Then, my eyes fell upon something I wrote from a book on the rights I have as a child of God. I read this aloud: I have a right to be free, be healed, to prosper, never fear again, to have peace, to use the name of Jesus, to always triumph, and with each right, my heart stirred, tears collected, and my throat grew tight.
I FELT these words. I FELT God covering me, hugging me.
HE was why I was calm despite the negative feelings I had about the situations before me.
HE was telling me that what I currently felt was not bigger than the truth, the truth that things would be OK...that I would be OK.
Make no mistake about this story; it has a happy ending, but it was a war: it was a war between my mind and my faith, my mind and my God, my mind and my possible (and probably detrimental) reactions to my mind. I could have, like I have done so many times before, exacerbated the situation and made myself sick--emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, but God was stronger than me (duh!), and this time, I was receptive to God's strength to not fall.
Being receptive, PRESENT while in the middle of "right now" stress allowed me to see God and His desire for me to be unharmed, thereby letting me be still--in peace and in joy.
If you haven't already, read more from the #HUGSlove Series of articles: