Afraid To Be Happy??

Is that a thing? Like a real fear? Turns out yes. It even has a name: Cherophobia

It’s a real fear, people.

If you’re a Christian, you’re more than likely aware that joy is a fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. But, joy and happiness are two different things. As a follower of Jesus, we can have joy even in the hard times because we (can/should) trust that Jesus is steadfast and never changes or leaves us. Joy in Jesus, regardless. But, happiness is a different animal. Happiness comes and goes based on our circumstances. We shouldn’t let people steal our joy, but they can definitely affect our happiness. The hurts and losses are hard and sad.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

The Bible also says to rejoice (be happy) with those who are happy and to mourn with those who mourn. This can lead to a quandary. We need to sympathize with those who are hurting, empathize is even better, but not let it affect our own happiness on our happy days.

Have you ever been so hurt or scared, that you’re afraid to be happy? I felt the Lord speaking that over me this morning. Letting others know you’re happy is not wrong, it’s not insensitive. It’s not rude or uncaring of their hurts. It’s the rainbow after your particular storm. And, I have dear friends who have been praying that for me.

The people who know you will be happy you are happy. The others will think life just comes easy for you. The thinkers and feelers struggle with even admitting happiness because we fear that we are not only “jinxing” ourselves, but that others will be jealous of our “perfect” life. It “must” be if she’s happy today. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let your happy days be just those. Happy days.

Image result for afraid to be happy

Who over thinks being happy? It’s more common than you may think.

I’m sharing because I struggle with this too. I have “appeared” happy when I’m heartbroken. Appearances are just that. Appearances. But, when a true sense of happiness emerges to and from my heart, it’s like a warm gush. A gush I almost fear….because what’s gonna happen next? Something. It’s always something. Or is my happiness going to hurt someone else?

I’ve gone through a really rough patch in my life where I’m sure some people feared their happiness would hurt me. Consider the wonderful marriages when your friend’s is falling apart, or the pregnancy when your friend’s just came to an abrupt end or hasn’t happened at all yet, the Mother’s Day brunch when you friend is missing hers. The vacation you are about to take when your friend can’t. The relationship or engagement that you’re so thankful for, but your single friends are still waiting for that love… It can make you think and fear happiness. For other’s sakes. We may feel guilt over our own happiness.

With women’s ministry as my passion, I am confided in and trusted as a prayer warrior for many precious friends and women. I am aware of struggles and I pray for their hearts. My heart goes out for their sadness in the midst of my own. Can we still fight the fear to share our happiness when it shows it’s lovely face? Can we dare to allow the happiness that flows in to warm our hearts when they’ve been heavy with burdens?

I say yes. I say, being willing to share your hurts AND struggles AND your happiness gives people hope. Not being willing to share one or the other doesn’t ring genuine. We need both. We want our friends to have safe places, hearts, and friends to share hurts with (because we all have them), and then to see their happiness can literally bring tears to our faces and hope to our situations (because we all desire it). May we all DARE to let the happiness wash over us and not FEAR the outcome or fallout. It’s a gift that can and should be relished.

Happiness comes and goes, anyone who says they are happy all the time, I might give the side eye. That’s not possible in this life. But, to be real, admit hardships, and express happiness when it’s present is a blessing to yourself and to others.

I love to see my friends happy, so I trust they feel the same for me.

 

 

 

 

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This is a Test.

tested

We test each other. Our children test us. Our spouses test us. Our coworkers test us. The Lord tests us. Our testing of each other is also being used as a test from God. How did you react to that injustice? How did you react to that set back? We pray for patience and then lose it when it’s required. We pray for blessings and then fail to recognize all the blessings around the one we are specifically praying for. We pray for financial relief, but are careless or stingy with what we do acquire.

My faith has been tested. My motherhood has been tested. My relationships have been tested. And, I wouldn’t want it any other way. In order to be strong, we must get through trials. Tests help us realize what’s worth fighting for. Trials are tests. We pass some, we fail some. But, if we learn and grow, no matter the outcome, we are stronger for the next one that comes along. And, another one will come. Not until we enter those pearly gates, will these tests come to an end.

It helps me to remember that tests are not designed to shame us (as Satan would like us to think), but to point out where we need Jesus most. They keep us humble and strengthen us at the same time. They point us to Jesus and remind us why He died for us. Because, only He could pass every test. Now, our dependence on Him is how we do.

If a relationship fails and reconciliation is not desired by both parties, let it go. You can’t make someone desire a friendship or future with you, nor should you have to. The people meant to be in your life forever, will WANT to be in your life forever. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

If you are in need of work, unhappy with your job, or didn’t get the job you wanted, how do you handle it? Are you looking? Are you doing what you can while you wait? Are you a bitter coworker? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. This a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

Rejection is one of our most painful tests as humans. Where is your sense of worth? In people? In Jesus? When you lose someone, when your heart breaks, when you need money, when you or someone you love is diagnosed, when your spouse or friend turns their back, when your opinion is deemed worthless or wrong, when your faith is questioned, when you mess up, CLING even tighter to Jesus. Cling tighter to Him than any human being. The loss and rejection is temporary, HE is permanent and never changing. This is why we call Him our Rock. This is a test, this is only a test. Jesus loves you.

God allowed Job to be tested. Satan was convinced that Job only worshipped God because his family and finances were blessed and he had a seemingly “easy” life. God allowed this test. This test broke Job’s heart into a million pieces. He lost his children, his health, his friends, his money….but his response?

Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said,

“Naked I came from my mother,
    and naked I will return.
The Lord has given,
    and the Lord has taken away!
May the name of the Lord be praised.”

Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong. Job 1:20-22 (GW)

His faith remained.

Tests are hard. They are hard in school and they are hard in life. We have tests for a reason. To find out what we know, what we are made of, what we will fight for, and who we will follow. Praise God for His faithfulness in my feeble attempts and failures. Praise God for the tests that make me realize more and more that I need Him. Praise God for the people who help me study and the people who test me.

For the same exact reason that a marriage becomes stronger when it overcomes tests, our relationship with Jesus becomes more secure through them as well. Satan tempted Job. Satan tempted Jesus. And, Satan tempts us. It’s what he does. He tempts and tries each one of us, with his ultimate goal being for us to curse God in our struggles and turn from him. Hold on to Jesus, dear one, and you will pass the test. Your sinfulness doesn’t discredit you. Jesus died for that. Your loyalty and sole dependence on Jesus gets you the “well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of your days on this earth. Regardless of the specific grade we receive, seeing His sweet face is the ultimate graduation gift after all these tests are over.

I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. — Matthew 5:24 (GNT)

 His Face is the A+ and I can’t wait to see it.

Dating?!?!

beauty from ashes

I’ve never been a good dater. And, I’ve never been interested in “playing the field”. My “dating” past before marriage consisted of about 4 long term boyfriends. I must be more of a relationship person than a dater because dating does not come naturally to me whatsoever.

Nonetheless, it’s been three years since my divorce and  I do have the desire to remarry one day, so dating has to happen, right? Once again, God tells me to trust that He is working and that He will teach me along the way.

One thing I’ve learned through my dating experiences is that I’d rather hear crickets than be with the wrong guy after what I’ve been through. Maybe one day I’ll expound on this story, but in short, I’ll just add that I never knew the extent of what human beings are capable of until I went through my divorce and started dating again. It has literally pried my eyes open. Which was shocking, scary, and painful, but God knew I needed to know.

Dating is tough personally for multiple reasons. I’m a mom and I work full time, therefore I have limited free time. I want to be an example to my girls. I want to protect my girls. I want to honor God. I want to grow together in a healthy way. I don’t want to get hurt…..who does?  I don’t want to hurt others. I also don’t want to settle for anything less than real love. The counterfeit comes off pretty perfect at times. And, I have been fooled before, hook, line and sinker.

Because of all this, I pray for discernment and God’s will every single day. I ask Him to expose and remove the deceptions and distractions. I ask Him to cover me in His grace and wisdom and help me to enjoy the process, which is so difficult for me. I ask Him to help me!

Another thing I’ve learned is that the perfect man for us will not be perfect, and I can’t expect him to be because I’m not. He’ll have flaws, struggles, and baggage just like I do. But, we will be able to share these struggles with each other because……he’ll be a communicator.

We’ll connect. He’ll be a listener. He’ll make me laugh and smile. He’ll be strong enough to handle my sadness and fear when it flares up because…..he’ll be my friend.

He’ll love me in spite of my insecurities and my past. He’ll hold me just because he wants to. He’ll encourage my passions and love my love for Jesus. He won’t push me, he’ll relax me. He won’t rush me, but walk alongside me. He’ll know that love is sacrificial. He’ll pursue me. He’ll understand me and appreciate my personal weirdness.

He’ll pray for me. He’ll be proud of me and my story. He’ll love the Lord and want to follow Him all the days of his life. He’ll love us so gently and consistently that trust and peace will follow.

This may sound like a lot of pressure to put on a man, but I yearn to do the same things for him. To love him well and to love him anyway.

Blending two people and two families isn’t easy and I don’t expect it to be. But, I also believe that with the right partner, it can be beneficial and beautiful. And that’s what God specializes in: Beauty from ashes.

Value of Friendship

friendship

I was asked to speak at a women’s event at church last night by my friend, Sheila. I thought I’d share on my blog as well. Good friends are priceless.

I’m honored to speak about friendships…Especially, friendships among women. What a treasure they are. I absolutely love it when women choose to relate rather than compete. It inspires and refreshes me. I have a true passion for women’s hearts and it burdens me to witness criticism and competition among women. We tend to instinctively compete and compare when it comes to motherhood, appearance, finances, careers, even passions. Just life. It’s exhausting. Personally, I think this desire to compete is driven by a deep desire to know we are loved and reminded that we are lovely. The fact of the matter remains that we are all in this together. Woman to woman. Friend to friend.

We have the power to choose whether we will help each other or hurt each other. Whether we will encourage or criticize. Whether we will uplift or press down. It saddens me to see how often the latter is chosen. Let’s do what we can to change that.

We have a very real enemy and he wants us to step on each other to get ahead, to be seen, to be heard. We have a Savior who wants us to help each other through this hard life. His way is seeing, relating, empathizing, listening to, praying for, and speaking the truth to in love. These are the ways we can truly help each other through our struggles. Clearly, it’s our choice as to whose way we pick when it comes to treating each other. We can step on each other or we can love each other.

In John 16:33, Jesus says In this world you WILL have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts; we WILL have troubles in this life. Being a true friend will not only make a positive difference in the lives of our friends, but also in our own. God designed relationships this way. Being a friend is being the hands and feet of Jesus to a fellow daughter of God. We all have value. I know this, because we are all valuable to Him. He died for each one of us. His death proves just how much we are worth to Him. Therefore, we should love each other. Relating instead of competing is one of the very BEST ways we can show Christ’s love to each other as women.

We are born into this world hungry for love. I know I was.

I speak from the experience of a daughter who craved her daddy’s approval more than anything else. I still crave his approval, I’m 37.

I speak from the experience of a child of divorce and all the difficulties associated with it. I was in the 8th grade and everything changed. It’s still hard today.

I speak from the experience of a girl who was in her twenties and still hungry for love. I met someone who said he loved me and I believed him. Looking back, he tolerated me. I thought it was enough. I didn’t know any different. So, I fell in love, got married, had 2 daughters and he left me 10 years in…..and never looked back. I felt abandoned, alone, unlovable and hungrier for love than ever….and that’s when Jesus touched me. Literally. His presence enveloped me in my weakest, saddest, darkest moment. I’ve been pursuing His presence ever since.

I speak from the experience of a working mom, a single mom, a devoted mom, a tired mom. A mom that wants to raise my daughters the very best I can. A mom who wants to live by example so badly and pour the love of Jesus into them daily so that they never feel unlovable like I did. A mom who feels like I fall short all too often. A mom thankful for God’s grace…..everyday.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ll bet some of you can relate.

I grew up feeling like more of a burden than a blessing. God made me feel special. The enemy did his best to make me feel unlovable and unwanted. But, the healing touch of Jesus and the consistent loving hearts of my friends have saved me, more than once, and they continue to….Praise God!

I still have a deep desire to be married and to have the complete family unit, just as God desires and blesses. My friends know this and they want the best for me, just like Jesus does. They remind me of my value when the loneliness and despair sets in. And, they do. My friends remind me that I’m a daughter of the Most High King and He is protecting me while WE wait for a Godly man who views me the same way.

My friends remind me of how much I am loved, past, present, and future when I forget. They inspire me and they lift me up. They value me and that feels wonderful. Looking back I can see where certain people were placed in my life like pawns to encourage and pray for me and my girls. I am forever grateful. And it makes me want to be a true friend to them in return and others in desperate need….as I was.

We make friends during different seasons in our lives….elementary school, high school, college, neighbors, co-workers, church, friends with young children, friends with high school kids, even empty nester friends. Different friends come with different seasons in our lives. Some turn into lifers and some flow in and out of our lives as we go our separate ways. That’s all normal. That’s just life.

One of my deepest desires for my daughters is that they make and keep friendships that point them to Jesus. That in each season of their lives, God will place pawns that point directly to Him. That they will desire these friendships and keep them close to their hearts. That they will be the kind of friend who loves, relates, comforts, and reminds others of Jesus. Let’s all be those kinds of friends…

I have been blessed to make these kinds of friends. If there’s one thing we do when we’re together it’s relate. We talk dating, marriage, motherhood, work/life balance, seeking a deeper personal relationship with God, finding a few spare moments of quiet time, lack of sleep, health issues, mood issues, whatever the struggle…we relate and love each other through it. These women are some of my truest treasures. My personal prayer warriors. They inspire me, cheer me on, pick me up, and love me just as I am. Who does that sound like? It sounds like Jesus to me. He loves us exactly as we are, and too much to leave us there. He carries us.

Proverbs 18:24 in a few different versions –

The Message – Friends come and go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

NLT – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

These verses are powerful. Friends are family that we get to choose.

To have and be a friend that sticks, loves, accepts, prays, and perseveres is nothing short of a gift from God. Cherish your girlfriends. Our best friends know how busy we are. They don’t demand our time. They make an effort to be in our lives, but they also cut us slack when it’s needed. Because…they KNOW how busy we are. Our best friends know this because they relate. And like a warm cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire place on a cold and drizzly day, their friendships comfort us. We know they love us.

Can we humble ourselves and relate to each other? Can we hug and listen to another tired mom? Can we text a random Bible verse to someone that comes to mind? Can we pray for each other? Can we vent? Can we laugh our worries away? Can we just relate? I’d rather relate with you than compete with you any day…I’m already tired. Let’s just love each other instead. Because, that’s what friends do.

Once again, I’d like to thank Sheila for planning this event and asking me to speak and share “whatever is on my heart”. I started writing in a blog last year. I love to write and I have shared quite a bit of my heart in it, but I’ve never spoken publicly before.

Sheila knows my heart, she is a true friend. We met a couple years ago, right after I moved back to Burleson after my divorce. We both wanted to start a Women’s Bible Study group here at the Burleson church. Our pastor said we both called to inquire about starting a Beth Moore study one day apart. He told us we should meet and do it together. We met at Starbucks and the rest is history. God is good. I know He brought us together. She has become one of my dearest friends.

I look around this room and I see precious women with precious hearts. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about women on my journey, it’s that regardless of our relationship status, we are all hungry for love. We can’t expect that hunger to be filled by our moms, dads, husbands, kids, or even our best friends. They can all contribute, and they should. But, God is our only source of unfailing perfect love. Our friends and families may have or will let us down. We aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be either. Only God is perfect. Let’s keep pointing each other to Him, after all that’s the most loving thing we can do for each other.