So we are almost through the first month of the New Year. I am sure you set goals for yourself right? Lose weight, get a 6 pack, eat healthier, give up coffee, eat less chocolate.
Well…how’s it going? Are you meeting your goals? Seeing results? Sleeping better? Feeling healthier? Less stressed?
Oh the goals…they are so good. But the habits…why are they so hard to break?
To be perfectly honest here…I didn’t make goals like this for myself this year. I enjoy eating healthy, but I also enjoy cookies. I love working out and pushing myself, I love monitoring my social media, it is always good to unplug daily. But in other areas I keep missing the mark…and the weight of the failure is too much. Yet, The Lord revealed to me one very distinct and clear thing…If I want to change my habits, I must have a change of heart. Well that makes sense Father, I feel like You are on to something. So I decided to take a step back…and He clearly revealed to me the underlying issue…problem…habit.
My bad habit is I struggle to trust God.
All I saw was a big gaping hole between me and God…and that hole has been filled with all my trust issues. Isn’t that what my entire relationship with God is based upon? Isn’t that what ANY relationship is based upon? Trust? Suddenly my faith seemed really really small. Talk about being honest here, I felt like my relationship with God didn’t have much depth at all. My heart began to ache…
I remember praying after Christmas this last year, asking and pleading, “God I don’t want to have small faith, I want to let go of the places in my life where I don’t trust You…I see how it effects everything, my health, my sleep, my marriage, my parenting…my mindset.”
And I could spend all my time working on my parenting, my marriage, my health, my habits but I realized the deeper issue is my heart. That if I don’t change my heart the habits will always exist. I pressed in more, I fasted, I prayed, I sought Him deeply…and the Spirit revealed 3 keys to understanding how to have a change of heart.
Yes set goals, make better choices for yourself, your family, your future…but it won’t start in your workout, your mental toughness…it starts in your heart. And it’s not people who change…but it is God who changes people.
Graphic - Tylar Kidwell
I have been challenged lately, no it’s more of a deep conviction. God has been asking me,
“Daughter, where is your joy coming from?” I’ve seemed to easily ignore the question with my busyness, with my pressing" to do's", my workout schedule I must keep without fault, my work, my family, the house… so I would brush Him off.
I fill up my time to talk to my all knowing, all seeing, powerful, perfectly loving God with anything and everything that is empty that is used to “relax, to just sit”. I deserve to just sit...don’t I?
But He has continued to ask me for my answer. Not in a pressuring way, but in His calm, quiet, soft loving heart. “Heather…where is your Joy? The root of it? Your source of Joy?”
So I answer… My joy? Hmm…my Joy. Well I wish I could say, and always say truthfully…that it’s You Lord. It is always You that fills me up, my cup overflows…My life might be crazy on the outside but on the inside it’s a peaceful sanctuary constantly offering up praises to You.
Goodness who can live that life? Who doesn’t want that life? I dream of that. Don’t You?
But it just feels like the world is too loud, the lists, the priorities, the ones to take care of…how to have peace…how to live a life of Joy when it all seems too much and you don’t even have time to think about yourself…let alone Joy. Or you think about yourself too much and you see only the negatives, the flaws. Where is the joy there?
How do you live a life of joy when your future is completely unsure…the things you need, the finances are so big, your womb is closed…when the one thing you want you can't seem to have, when he doesn’t love you back. How do you have joy when the cancer spreads, how do you have joy when life hits…really hard? In those moments our struggle, our hurt, our worry and fear gets way too big and our God gets way too small…and our Joy is gone, suffocated right out of your heart.
Here is what I am learning…Joy and thanks…they are one in the same, they are intertwined….inseparable. I have heard this before, I have read this before…but have I believed it? Walked on this truth? Practiced it?
Paul said it…I have learned to be content. To have joy with plenty and in want. But here is the key to it, don’t miss it like I have so many times. He said he learned! Sweet friends this is a life change we must practice. It doesn’t come natural, it wont come in the moment…just like being able to run a marathon, do crossfit, play the piano; we practice, practice practice. We set aside time. We hone our craft. We work hard for it. We learn it front to back, every trick, tip, secret…we know it.
Yes…you want Joy…then thanks must flow…from your lips…from your heart. Because this life is messy. So to live this way is a life change…possibly the biggest life change.
And we must learn it.
So count gifts, memorize scripture, pray pray pray all the time, out loud or in your head.
Because dear heart isn’t this worth learning!!!?? Aren’t you worth living this way? Your one shot at this life...don’t you want full Joy?
To live a life of Thanks. This is the key.
Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change. – Voskamp
Now isn’t that the hardest test of all. To come before our Heavenly Father…Give thanks…and leave it at that. Just stop there. Hmm…to not ask for anything…not that asking, pleading, crying out is wrong..no no what a gift we have to come to our Father this way. But to just say thank you. Even when the answer doesn’t come. Even when the miracle doesn’t happen…the hard thanks. We never want to face the hard thanks, but to be able to say, “It is well…” Now this is a depth to a relationship with Jesus that must taste so sweet.
I encourage you today, this year 2016…no matter your circumstance, your situation, to say thank you God, to find your Joy in Him. Because oh how He loves you. I believe it. And I believe it for you.