How to Change Your Default from Stress to Joy!

I was standing in the park the other day, in California, watching my granddaughter play with another child in a giant sandbox.

All of a sudden they decided a “snail hunt” was the next thing to do. They wandered in and out among some small trees and bushes and I moved to be able to keep my eyes on them.
The grandmother of the other child and I struck up a conversation and a couple of minutes later the lady said, “Oh, I must get back in the sun.” This was so curious to me as it wasn’t the least bit cool outside.
But I noticed from this ladies appearance that she had spent hours in the sun. The rest of our conversation confirmed how desperate she was to be in the sun daily.

When I told my daughter about it later she said, “Mom, people can be addicted to the sun!”

I had never thought about this but I began to consider all the things we can become addicted to and I began praying.
Suddenly, I had a thought, maybe we can become  addicted to stress or if not addicted ( something we crave) perhaps it becomes our default.

Some of you know part of our story, while others know more. But for the last 4 years, stressful things have consumed our lives. We literally had multiple life altering situations going on at one time. Things that weren’t resolved quickly, but continued on, only one of those things was my husbands fight with brain cancer and his death.

Looking back it’s obvious to see God’s hand at work through it all. His presence was unmistakable AND, it was some of the most difficult things I have walked through.
While I learned to press in, “lift up my eyes” to his and fight for joy, I also started noticing that the partial resolve of one situation or another did not bring the peace I desperately desired. Rather, one of the other situations would shift to take its position. This meant, that even while I was choosing joy, and fixing my eyes on Jesus , I had moments of joy and peace, but that feeling of stress was always right there too. It was ready to take the forefront of my mind at any given moment.

I learned to fight this by filling my mind with promises of God’s word or reminding myself of the ways he had been faithful in the past but sometimes even this was not enough. Because as I looked back at his faithfulness and looked at my current struggle I was easily susceptible to the lie that God’s good plans were for others. If they had been for me my prayers for Alan would have been answered.

My Spirit man knew this wasn’t true, but my flesh was so tired and many times I would be too weary to renew my mind with God’s truth.
I was sorting through all this in thought and prayer when I came across this passage in Isaiah 43;

“But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

It’s okay to look back beloved and remember the faithfulness of God to build up our faith but we must not stay there.
For if we do, we might begin to believe that God doesn’t work like he used to. Or that he won’t be the same deliverer or Savior for us. As if we are somehow different from others and not worthy for him to act on our behalf. We may not be worthy,  but He is dear one! He is worthy and He acts!!

Confession Time here: I’m raising my hand. I am guilty of this. This is an area I have allowed the enemy to speak to far too often.

But this is how we fight dear ones, we go beyond remembering God’s faithfulness , on to a place of hope for the future.
I love how God gives his people a pep talk in Isaiah 43. He starts in verse 16 saying,

“I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

But then he says ( in the verse we read previously)

Forget all that!”

Because he wants us to go beyond remembering, to a place of believing God for the future. Then He makes some pretty powerful promises

If we find ourselves in the desert, he will make a pathway through it, in fact he will create rivers of refreshment along the way.

How do we go beyond remembering to a place of HOPE?
I don’t have all the answers dear ones, but His word does and I believe it can begin by practicing Psalm 23.

Practicing Psalm 23?

Yes, I know it’s an often quoted verse but how often is it lived?  I have been savoring this psalm for a few years now. I never tire of it.
I encourage you to go back and read, it, reread it,even make a habit of speaking it over your life.

We have a shepherd that wants to lead us beside quiet waters and restore our souls. That doesn’t happen in
the chaos and noise of life.
We have to find green pastures in our lives to slow down and listen. So that we process the things that bring stress and exhaustion and give them to him.
As we learn to change our default from stress to resting in the promises of God  we will begin to believe that,

Mercy and goodness shall follow us all the days of our lives.”

It’s in that place that hope(expectation) in the goodness of God is born and true joy follows.

I’m on this journey with you dear ones. I speak not as an expert but a fellow traveler. Won’t you join me?
Let’s reprogram our hearts to default to joy as we rest in His promises.

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