I am both thrilled and deeply scared about this year. I need to make a lot of changes and big steps so there’s that and there’s also that I don’t know how to and I realized I wasn’t even a month into the year and already my joy was being crushed; my bubble had burst. The whole new year, better me thing was going horribly and unless it’s Sunday, I haven’t been at my most joyful. And I know so many people struggle with this, we start the week off in a good mood and by Tuesday we’re wishing for Saturday or you wake up great and 10 minutes later you are grumpy and tired or the most common one, the new year thrill fades off and you’re left in the dust of long lists, no money and impossible dreams.
So I took a long and hard look at my life and really wondered what exactly was taking my joy? I mean, as a Christian I am meant to be joyful at all times and in all things, not happy, but joyful. And if I am walking in the presence of the Lord, which I should be as He lives in me, then why am I not experiencing fullness of joy? After a really short time(because this things are kinda obvious) I figured out just how or what was stealing that inner radiation of true contentment and hope that we call joy and I decided to share the five things here:
1. Microwave mentality:
So you know how you put food in the microwave and literally minutes later it is good and hot? or defrosted? That’s how I tend to be with my life. I hear the word of God or I make a resolution or I see something in my head and I want it to be actualized immediately, constantly. You see, on occasion, things do happen immediately or suddenly but most times, they take time, progress, dedication and even when done, they do not come out as seen in your head. So here I am expecting a six pack after 2 days of doing one set of 50 crunches and I am expecting to get that job after two weeks of looking and to have flawless skin after 3 days of drinking 3 liters of water per day.
Life doesn’t work that way and yet many a times we find ourselves wishing for that instant success, instant actualization of the miracle. And when we don’t see it, we lose hope and consequently joy because we were so deeply depending on that happening for us to remain joyful. We focus on things here and not on things above and we end up depressed, bitter, fatigued and stressed about something that takes time, patience and due diligence to be achieved. Learning to wait is the most important thing we can learn because it prepares us for blessings and even challenged and it builds character. If you can be joyful in the wait, then you can survive. Check out more on the wait here.
The need for instant gratification is what keeps us uprooting and killing our flowers when they don’t grow and yet we are meant to water,nurture and fertilize them and wait for their season.
2. Replaying (and dwelling) past events:
You know how when you really want to sleep and your brain decides that is a good time to replay that embarrassing moment when you were 12? Or how you could be perfectly content and happy and the next second you get flash backs to that very very stupid decision you made two years ago? Or how you can be talking to someone and suddenly you remember that silly thing you said to someone else 3 days ago? What is worse is when that is accompanied by a different scenario that should have happened or how you should have made a different decision and how it would have turned out and you dwell and live in that ‘what if’ or sad or embarrassing memory for minutes and hours and by the time you shake yourself out of it, you’re just moody and depressed.
The past is there to guide us and remind us of where we are coming from but if and only if we can glance at it and not stare into it’s dark,beady eyes. We tend to focus on our pasts and give it too much credit for the point we are at without realizing that we really do not know how it would have turned out had we not made that decision or gone there or done that. We assume it would have been better but maybe it would have been the same or worse. We are not all-seeing neither were we at the beginning of time for us to foresee how things we’ll end up. Life is a decision making game and sometimes you make one and the game ends and other times you earn less points and other times you earn more points and move on yet other times you earn more points but spend them fixing the wreck you made when you blasted through. Our only hope is to trust God and listen to His voice but most importantly it is to take the grace He freely gives and use it to move on.
P.S you can check out 4 ways to deal with anxiety post here
Dwelling on the past is like reading the same book over and over and still expecting a different ending each time, as if the author has somehow changed the book since the last time.
3. Planning and planning for all scenarios:
So yes, we are told to save for our futures and to work for retirement and to make decisions knowing they will affect even up to our great-grand children’s lives but just like focusing on the past will make you crash, over-planning for the future will ensure you never enjoy the present. We all know that we could die any day and also that the rapture could happen at any given moment, now if any of those two scenarios happened right now, would you be content with how you’ve lived so far? We are so focused planning for the worst possible scenario we can think of in our future that it ruins the joy of the present.
So instead of waking up and thanking God for the day and enjoying it, we wake up in a rush to hit the gym so we don’t die of obesity or worse single and alone(lol) and then we rush to school/work lest we end up without rent next month or a pension then we rush home to do whatever else needs to be done so that we do not ‘fall behind’. We are lost making sure that in the future, we don’t end up lost and that is killing our joy and making us anxious and stressed. So today instead of planning, focus on living. The God who feeds the birds and grows the trees will ensure you have what you need for the future you will live in.
No matter how much we try, we will never have control of the future and we will never be able to accurately predict it. The best we can do is live in the moment we are in and pray for the ones coming.
4. Swish swish and a rush:
So my parents laugh at how fast I zoom through the house and they’re always saying that I rush and rush and stress for nothing. And I’m not the only one. We rush and rush our days and our lives. We wake up in a rush, rush through school/work, rush to get home, rush through functions. We even have set timelines of when we can get a degree, get married, get children, get a masters, buy/build a home, take your first international trip etc. It’s the human race. We looooove to be in a hurry it seems until we are marketed to as “Come, take a break and slow down”. This rush may seem like we are getting things down but in reality we are losing more time because we have to go back and re do things, we have to be hospitalized to actually rest, we have to live in regret when you realize you married the wrong person or we have to stay in jobs we hate because we rushed to go to college and finish without stopping to see what we really wanted to do.
Take time to actually breathe, actually enjoy life. If you miss the bus, there’s always the next one, or go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. Remember in God’s time, all things are made beautiful so just breathe and walk with Him. That will keep you so joyful and you won’t go through life on a tight timeline,stressed and rushing. For more on this check out Sanity and happiness: why I quit chasing the rabbit.
Slow down and enjoy the moment because even if you capture it, you’ll never live in it again. Take time and enjoy the journey and not stress about the destination because the road trip is as important as the last stop.
5. Comparison our constant foe:
So Becky just got her degree,in Medicine no less, and you are here still ‘figuring out’ your life. And did you see Kate’s waistline? and John’s new car and Mark’s business being featured in the newspaper as a startup of the year? Did you here that Dina, the one two classes behind you got a job already? And that girl I follow just went on her second tour of Europe? and your ex got married already?
There’s a cycle. We compare ourselves to celebrities, parents, friends, enemies, people we don’t know on the road or social media because they have achieved what we want or what we claim to be success (see my last post on redefining success ) . Sometimes we start with a good heart, we want to congratulate them, wish them well, take some style tips or some money making advice or borrow some notes but then we let their brightness blind us from seeing our own light and even more so, the light of God. We forget that that is their own path, their own life and most of all, their own goals and struggles. When living life, we have to find that thin line of learning from others and yearning for what they have. That yearning leads to envy, bitterness, hatred and it most definitely kills our joy because suddenly, your life is not enough.
Contentment is a practice and a battle. Learn to embrace yourself, your journey and your calling so as to enjoy the process it takes to get you to where you are working towards. Practice the art of admiring and rejoicing for someone else’s success without it having to directly correlate to your own. The brightness of their light does not diminish that of yours.
So even as January draws to a slow fast close(because it’s rushing and dragging at the same time), try to re-check your life again, even at the end of everyday and see if there is something stealing your joy and put that in check.
I hope you guys liked this and if so like and share. The link to my Facebook page is also on the side and you can like it to see more and a lot of my poetry.
Lots of love to you and remember to trust the journey God is taking you on.