Tag Archives: Happiness

Baggage

“Life is largely a matter of luggage.” -Frank Boreham, The Luggage of life

I’m always amazed at how much we are willing to carry with us that is completely unnecessary.

We are masters at gathering baggage.

The burden of the load slows our journey, distracts our minds and confuses our relationships.

John Bunyan wrote about baggage in his work Pilgrim’s Progress.

George Carlin talked about it in a comedy routine.

No matter who we are we find a way to carry our lives around with us. Often it’s emotional baggage we have accumulated over the years. Unforgiveness. Anger. Hurts. Old memories of wrongs done. Pain. And the list could continue for pages. But have you noticed that it’s always the negatives that become baggage? It’s all the hurts of life that weigh us down. The pain that handicaps us.

The good that God intended has no weight at all.  Joy is light as a feather. Happiness lifts us up rather than weighing us down. Peace carries its own load and helps us along the way. Kindness refreshes the weary traveler. Love makes the impossible possible once more. Mercy energizes. Grace empowers. The things God wants us to put in our backpacks help us on the way and have no weight to load us down. It’s only when we carry the results of sin that the weight and struggles begin.

That’s the invitation Jesus extended. “Come unto me….” It’s found in Matthew 11-12 if you want to read it. His invitation is to make the journey without all the baggage of the world in tow. When will we realize that this journey was meant to be a wonderful adventure with God instead of a grueling journey to be endured? When will we get rid of all that weighs us down and pick up the things that make the journey a joy?

I wonder sometimes about our fascination with baggage. It’s as if we have to hold onto something. I even see it in death. We are so reluctant to let go of this life. We want to hold onto all the junk we have accumulated, but find in the end that it’s just that….junk. I wonder if we will ever realize we have become a race of junk collectors….glad to carry the burdens of our trash instead of enjoying the blessings God provides.

Where Is Goodness & Joy?

Where is GoodnessThe other day I was talking with a friend that I had not talked to in a while. Knowing that she had been through a deep, horrible loss with the death of her beloved brother, I emailed her to let her know I was thinking of her and praying for her.

Through a series of emails, she made a statement to me that many of us often forget when the pain is overwhelming and the darkness has consumed our days.

She said:

“Goodness does still exist here, you just have to look real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real hard.”

Here, among many other things, is what I shared with her.

“Goodness is still here. The negative overshadows it. Hurt covers it. Pain hides it. Uncover the goodness!”

Pain, discouragement and disappointment can and often does bring isolation. Then the depression creeps in. When that happens, JOY is covered up and because you don’t “feel happy”, the negative emotions take over.

 

Happiness is a fleeting emotion, while Joy is undeniable faith in an almighty God, who has your best interest at heart. We may not always understand our pain, anguish or why we don’t seem to be reaping the goodness we’ve sowed, but we can claim great joy in the Lord as we walk through the hardships that lay ahead.

I’ve had several people tell me that the only reason I can be actively spreading joy the way I do is because things are good and/or that I’m just looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

When I speak of spreading the joy of the Lord “regardless of circumstances,” I speak from experience. Yes, I’m so blessed! Yes, my needs are met and many of my wants are met as well. Yes, I have a wonderful husband, 2 amazing kids and family that I adore. Yes, I have a job to pay the bills and to give support to Spreading Joy with. But yes…I do know pain, hurt and just how dark negativity can make things.

There have been times that I’ve looked up towards heaven and said “seriously???? Lord?? Really?”

There have been times that I’ve sobbed, not just cried, but poured out my heart to the Lord saying, “again??? Must we endure this again?”

There have been times when grief has so filled my heart with sadness that I simply couldn’t get out of bed.

There have been times when I’ve wondered… “when Lord? When will a positive answer to prayer come”

There are things on my “only GOD” prayer list that I look at and wonder can I muster up a grain of a mustard seed sized portion of faith for those needs.

There have been times that my hearts tells the Lord, “I’m sorry, Lord. I’ve completely failed you and I don’t have the wisdom to take the next step”

And as much as I try not to, there are those times when I whisper in my heart, “why Lord. Why? I simply don’t get it!”

 

But I can firmly stand on the Word of the Lord with Nehemiah 8:10 saying the joy of the LORD is my strength. Am I always happy? No, I’m not. But do I have joy through sorrow? Yes, I do.

So, how do we find the goodness and find joy that gets hidden during these horrid times in our lives?

We look for them, seek them, choose them and keep them.

  1. Look for the good. There is usually something good about each and every day. Trouble is our heart is so discouraged that it shuts its eyes to anything but the negative that surrounds the trouble. Uncover the joy that is waiting to be discovered.
  2. Use praise as a weapon. Being openly grateful about the blessings in our world will drive discouragement away. Don’t get me wrong, it may be a fight between your heart and mind, but it is worth it. Praise the hurt away. Sing until the clouds lift from over your heart.
  3. Laugh. I love laughing and sometimes, I laugh at the most inappropriate time, which tends to end up being funnier for those around me. When your heart is in despair, find your favorite cartoons, your favorite funny shows and watch them.
  4. Saturate your day with the Word of God. Listen to the Bible, read the Bible. Find some online preaching. We should be in God’s word daily anyway, but more so when we don’t “feel like it.”
  5. Pray! Surround yourself with the Comforter Himself. God knows your heart, empty it of the hurt that is filling it up and let God’s joy strengthen you.
  6. Do something for others. Don’t let negative feelings about how small “your something for others is” cloud your heart. Just do it. I’m telling you, and I’ll keep telling you – go and give a box of Little Debbie Cakes away or a pack of Reese’s Cups. The smiles will be unbelievable.
  7. Dig deep into your memory. On the days when the sorrow is so great due to a horrible loss and you are working your way through the pain of that particular event, do something powerful and REMEMBER something good, just for a few moments. I know this kind of day. Even though you have great peace and trust the Lord to carry you through, the pain is so great that you wonder how you’ll function. Use the memories of something awesome to remind your heart that “this too shall pass” and just how amazing God’s grace truly is.

 

This in no way is an exhaustive list, but it is things that I do and turn to time and time again.

I’ve been sending out a message on twitter for a while now. I will send it out almost daily as I know different people will see it at different times. It says

JOY…. Choose it today! Look for it today… Expect it TODAY!

 

In the middle of your discouragement, remember the joy is right there too. Your eyes are closed to it because sometimes it is just easier to see the darkness. But remember, even in the darkest night, all it takes is one flicker and that flicker can be seen for miles.

Uncover the goodness; don’t let it slip by you without you grabbing hold of it.

How do you uncover the goodness and joy that is within your reach?

Will you share some of what gets you through the dark times?

What verse or verses get you through?

Inspire someone by leaving a comment.

 

Marie Wikle the Founder and President of Spreading Joy Corporation wants to empower everyone to make a difference and give without guilt.
Here is a personal Warm Welcome to Spreading Joy. You’ll find links to interviews, no cost ways to make a difference and other things that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your heart.

We want to rise above the discouragement of high prices, the obstacle of dead ends and the disappointment of our comfort zone. We want to be the change that is so desperately needed.

The Big Lie

I watched the beginning of a video a few weeks ago that is haunting. I couldn’t watch it all. I didn’t want to see the end. It was the video of a young lady committing suicide. Someone had filmed it. The beginning of the video was heartbreaking as she just stood there…on the edge of this tall building looking down. I stopped the video before she moved a muscle. The title told me all I needed to know. I can’t imagine the thoughts of someone as they make this kind of life ending decision. It’s a tragic event in the life of someone God has made. It’s a horrible end of the life of someone dear to God. I just couldn’t watch the point of decision…the point where she leans forward and moves beyond her ability to make any other decision. The rest is inevitable.

It made me think about something that I have been dwelling on for a long time. It’s what I call the big lie. It’s a lie that started many centuries ago, but continues to be believed even today. Here’s the lie- I can find happiness disobeying God. It’s a lie that we have believed to our own fall for centuries.
At first, you have a sense that all is well. You might find pleasure for a moment, a little excitement, maybe a thrill; but there will be a moment when you move past your ability to make any further choices and you begin to fall. The outcome is unavoidable. It will happen every time and yet I hear over and over again, as people tell me they want to make a choice that is clearly sin in scripture, “I just want to be happy…” My response is the same each time. It’s a response I have repeated to those on “the edge of their building” over and over again….”You will never find happiness disobeying God.” But what I know is that most people don’t believe me and so they go on that horrible quest that starts with the decision to jump and always ends in death.
Here’s how the book of James describes it,
James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Look at the way James describes this- conception, birth, full growth and then death. From conception to birth there is a time of growth. The baby is growing in the mother’s womb. For a few months it looks like there were no results from the intimate act that had in fact conceived a new baby, but soon the action begins to show….soon there’s a birth, then growth and finally death. This is the perfect description of disobedience to God. For a moment there is pleasure, no one disputes that, but there will be a birth coming. There will be results from sin, it will come to light, it will grow up and ultimately there will be a death because of the choice. Sin has a price and it’s high!
I’ve seen this so many times in my role as a pastor I could almost predict the outcome when a person decides that it is “ok” to disobey God because….”don’t you know….I just want to be happy.” There are a hundred stories I could tell. They all end the same. The big lie has not changed in centuries, nor have the results. Don’t believe the culture when they tell you that it’s ok, because God would surely want you happy. I must tell you that God is more interested in your obedience than he is in your happiness. If you do things God’s way happiness will be one of the results. If you do things your way happiness will always elude you because…you will never find happiness disobeying God.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Seekers

We all search for something.

We seek happiness, love, peace, companionship, friendship, security.

We are born seekers.

But it’s easy to get confused about what is really important to seek after.  Our search for the things that satisfy the heart and meet our real needs is often unfulfilled.  Our search for meaning and happiness often ends in frustration.

As I read this morning I came to these words in the book of Zephaniah, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, Seek humility;” I was struck by the invitation to seek and the direction in which way to look.  It’s natural to be a seeker, but we don’t always know where to look.

As children we all played “hide and seek”.  We are seekers by nature. There is a natural thrill in the hunt, the quest, as we seek out that hidden treasure.

It was interesting to notice that God is not only inviting us to seek, but he helps us with where to look.  And so I thought, is this seeker invitation in other places?  Does God invite our search and does he help us with clues to the quest?  If seeking is part of who we are and invited by the God who made us, does he also help us with our quest?  Here are just a few of the clues that I found,

Psalm 53:2
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

As I went on my own quest for this theme of a seeker it was all through the bible!  To be a seeker is natural, to be invited by God to be a seeker fits well with how we are made, but to help us he gave us clues about what to seek.

We are, by nature, seekers of things.  God invites us to be seekers of relationship.  We search out external happiness.  God invites us to seek internal happiness.  We make our search about US.

God invites us to seek HIM.

Seek Him.  In our quest for happiness, peace, comfort, joy, and a hundred other things we find ourselves exhausted with our quest.  It’s simply not enough to fill our empty hearts, but God invites a much simpler search…a search for him, and in that quest for him we find everything else we were seeking after.  It is, finally and ultimately, all about him.

Seek Him, and in that quest you will find everything else as well.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Made To Woship

Made to worship

We were made to worship.
It’s part of us.
It’s part of who we are.
We look for someone to worship, some thing to worship. If we don’t worship a god of some kind we will worship things, ourselves, others.
We were made to worship.
Worship is what we give worth to…what’s important to us. We look for something higher than ourselves to give our lives meaning and purpose. We look for something worth living for. We look for something to worship.
The God who made us designed us to worship him, but we have chosen other things…lower things…things that don’t fulfill what worship of the true God was meant to do. Worship of God brings focus, peace, direction, joy, happiness. All of these things come because we are doing what we were meant to do- worship and praise the God who made us.
Worship is good for us.
We were made to worship.
Here’s one man’s worship after a very difficult day. It’s a great example of a right focus even in difficult days,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” -Job