Well it's a crazy Thursday in a crazy, busy week (as usual - LOL!) so today I thought I'd bring to you a very special guest post. I pray it blesses you as much as I've been blessed!
How To Have JOY In Your Journey
by Tammy Whitehurst
Giants. We all face them. They come in the form of cancer, relationships, fear of flying, a job, death, a marriage break up, or a person's past. Giants want to suffocate us, scare us, and knock the wind out of us. They leave us hopeless instead of hopeful. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Whatever giant is stealing your joy and breaking your heart doesn't have to control you any longer.
There comes a time when we must shake off the chains of yesterday and run forward with purpose, intention, and hope for a brighter tomorrow. We must realize what we can and cannot do. We change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove the unacceptable things we are doing, which starts us on the journey to joy.
Let's be honest. Some of us have been burned out, cheated on, lied to, and stolen from. Our hearts have been broken and our souls have been beaten. The world is filled with “walking wounded” and “battered believers” who are searching for hope.
I’ve spent many days as a walking, wounded, battered believer who knew there was more to life. Don’t we all want to get better at something? Or be a better version of ourselves? I had to decide to no longer be stuck—stuck in a rut, stuck in sadness or numbness, stuck in anger, stuck spending more money on stuff I didn’t need, stuck spinning my wheels, or stuck feeling empty.
There came a time when I did the “hokey pokey” and turned myself around. I began to blame less and bless more. Frown less and laugh more. Hate less and love more. Doubt less and dream more. Gripe less and cheer more. Sit less and move more. Discourage less and encourage more. Eat less and pray more. Fear less and hope more. I could feel joy coming back! I had to get unstuck from the ruts in life and be more of who God created me to be!
It’s amazing how lost and confused we can get with the everyday. We wish our lives away. We go to work day in and day out and leave unfulfilled and unhappy. We moan, groan, and look forward to the weekend. We go through the daily grind unsatisfied. We feel insignificant as if we make no difference in the world.
I say “we,” because I am guilty of doing this and still do it from time to time. People often ask me, "Do you ever have days when you feel sad, down or worried? Do you have days where you feel drab and blah, and have a hard time getting started?" My answer is always the same: "Yes, I do! I am human." The key to my joy is that I focus on what God tells me and not what the world throws at me. It is never too late for a new beginning.
1. Say to yourself, “It’s time for a change.”
Change often means changing what you commit to do. Instead of shooting from the hip, shoot from the lip! Practice saying no to the things you need to let go of and yes to the things that will improve your life, make you better, and fill you with joy. Sometimes you have to say no to some things so you can say yes to the things you really love to do. Get a grip on the lip so every step in life won’t be exhausting. Begin saying no and refocus on what gives you joy and purpose. You are never too old to change or to have a new beginning. Your greatest accomplishments will be that you had the courage to begin and the endurance to keep going.
You must have a passion for what you do. That is the only way to have joy in your journey. Do what is right for you; no one else walks in your shoes. Move forward, keeping your eyes on the goal and never miss the blessings along the way. Do what you must to make things happen in a positive way and dismiss negativity quickly. Decide what you want and live a life you can be proud of. If there ever comes a time when your priorities have changed and you find yourself hiding from people or feeling ashamed, find the strength to start over again. Sometimes that will mean saying, “I’m sorry.”
2. Decide what is really important and stick with it.
Busyness is not a spiritual gift. It distracts you from what is really important. There is a big difference between being busy and being productive. Instead of running nowhere in every direction, walk in the direction you want to go.
Sometimes we don’t even recognize ourselves in the mirror because we have become somewhat of a chameleon. We are too many things to too many people. Make a list of the most important things in your life. List them in order. Give up the things that weigh you down and cause you to get off balance. When we are out of balance, we can become angry, stressed, snappy, and cold. When we have balance, we are more kind, caring, compassionate, and understanding. Only then can we make a profound difference in the lives of others, as well as ourselves. Compassion will have us hugging the hopeless, comforting the sad and grieving, and laughing with those who haven’t laughed in a long time.
It will not be easy to slow down, but life is kind of like riding a bicycle. In order to ride successfully, you must keep your “balance.” When you encounter bumps and bruises, get back on the bike and stay on the journey. No shortcuts!
3. Make a decision.
Life gets better when you decide to make it better. It always begins with a choice. Moaning and groaning and whining are a trap. Do not give in to this kind of behavior. Negative people pull others down with them. Positive people know what it takes to do something and will wake up to a goal.
Life is full of both challenges and opportunities. When you grasp courage and boldness with both hands, you can make a difference in not only your life but the lives of others. People are attracted to such people because when the world feels like it is crashing down, positive people will find a way out of the clutter and chaos with a grin on their faces. I want to be that kind of person.
4. Realize you can’t fix everything or everyone.
We really only control ourselves, our actions, and our thoughts. When we try to control others we become entangled in a web of confusion, frustration, and stress. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make it happen. When it looks like nothing is changing and we are manipulating a situation beyond our control, we just need to go to a quiet place, refocus, and let it go.
Choose to accept what is and what is not; let go of the need to control every detail of everyone’s lives, and search within the depths of your soul for the peace that surpasses all understanding.
5. Leave the past behind.
We all have a story to tell and a wound to heal. Most of these were dark times of our lives, times that make us shudder or tremble. Some of us visit those dark places day after day. We know it’s poison, but we continue to embrace the darkness time again. In this dark place we try to put the pieces of the puzzle back together again. We go over all the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” and think for some reason we can change the past.
Leave the pieces where they are and walk out of the dark place once and for all, knowing that the puzzle can’t be put back together the way it was. Close the door and walk into the light with your arms open wide. Put the crisis behind you and get on the path to recovery, hope, joy, and a peace that surpasses all understanding. Seek to "get even" with all those who have done right by you and stop wasting time trying to get even with those who have done you wrong.
6. Be an inspiration.
No matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems appear to be, or how insignificant you might feel, you can make a difference in the world. You can’t be everything to everybody, but you can still be something to someone. Most people will tell you that the reason they changed is because someone cared enough to listen and show them kindness in a world that at times is so unkind.
When our final days come, we will not remember entire days, we will remember moments. The big things we tried to accomplish often pale in the end compared to the little blessings along the way to the big thing. Don't let something that doesn't matter lose out to something that does. Take time to notice those things from this day forward. One day and one decision at a time. And taste a little joy in your journey.
Tammy Whitehurst, a Christian speaker, is the founder of Joy for the Journey Ministries. You can read more about her at tammywhitehurst.com