I shared recently about the difference between joy and happiness with the latter being tied to our circumstances. Joy is deeper and comes from our faith and belief in God. We can have joy in the midst of the most terrible of situations. Happiness is fleeting. We can be both happy and filled with joy, but happiness without joy is empty.
Just like we can’t have faith and fear together, we cannot have joy when we have anger. The two are opposing emotions. Like many things, joy is a choice. Unfortunately, I think we expect joy to just find us, and when we are left feeling isolated, alone, angry and empty, and we wonder what happened. Perhaps you can relate.
I’ve shared that I got a severe case of the Delta variant in January, but what I didn’t tell you is the emotional torment I experienced. High fevers can cause hallucinations and all sorts of bizarre dreams, which I had, but what I wasn’t counting on was the rage…sheer, ugly, violent rage.
It was if all my protective shields were gone because I had zero energy to hold them up. I was exposed, and I didn’t like what I felt. Years of pent-up frustration, disappointment and anger boiled over and out of me. How ironic that my word this year is (you guessed it): joy.
I don’t think this was by accident. In fact, I know it was God. COVID-19 was the perfect opportunity for Him to highlight what I needed to let go if I truly wanted joy. I wasn’t choosing joy but rather holding on to my anger for all the times I had been hurt, let down or just had things blow up in my face.
In my vlog last week, I shared about being in God’s waiting room. Well folks, I’ve been in the waiting room regarding some health issues for five years now. Heck, my entire life feels like a waiting room as I have moved from one crisis and battle to fight to another. I know every square inch of that waiting room! I have also been in the waiting room for personal and professional reasons, and I had no clue as to the mounting frustrating that was building. During the worst of my COVID-19, God was helping me detox, eliminate, sweat and release my anger.
I heard on the radio this morning that the #1 thing most people hate is waiting in lines. Combine that with the fact that I am a go getter, mover and shaker, and waiting becomes irritating to me. Alas, here I am learning over and over again to wait upon the Lord and His timing. And as I’ve said, we have much to learn and develop while we wait. I’m working on choosing joy every day.
I’m processing and unpacking all that anger. I’ve worked very hard through the years to forgive others, but I’m learning that I haven’t done a very good job with forgiving myself. Much of my anger is at myself for decisions I’ve made personally and professionally, but some of it is directly at the intentional hurts people continue to cause me. Even that anger is really about me because I allow those behaviors to continue. My won’t change anyone or my circumstances, and it certainly isn’t helpful to me emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually. The song, I Surrender All, has been playing in my head a lot lately as I let go of my anger and replace it with joy.
I am intentionally filling my heart with joy, and as I do, I have less room in there for anger. Joy is like a light in the darkness. As soon as we light it up, the darkness disappears. Joy is also active whereas anger can passively stew inside of us. When we spend energy on being joy-filled, our spirit is lifted and we look to the heavens with gratitude. Conversely, any energy spent on anger drains us and depletes us, resulting in skewed perceptions and typically bad reactions that bring us down into the pit of despair.
I suspect in many cases, we can replace the word anger with depression because I seriously doubt you can have depression and joy together. This might be more of what you are struggling with rather than anger. Either way, joy eludes us and will continue to do so unless we do something different. Like me, you may need to forgive yourself. We are only human.
I continue to be amazed at how God moves in our lives and how everything really does work for our own good. We must have eyes that see and a spirit willing to receive. As we let go and surrender, we will find not only joy but forgiveness and peace. May you see your own struggles as a way to improve the quality of your life.
Through my life journey, I have learned a lot the hard way, and I share how to get your life back into balance in my book, I Want My Life Back! It will challenge you to look at relationships differently, set healthier boundaries and tackle the tough stuff in your own life.