Choose Joy

 

As I sat here thinking about how crazy, I was to volunteer to write a devotional, one word kept going through my heart. 

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As a Christian, how can I be depressed? How can I be this sad, knowing that I have a Lord and Savior who loves me with all my heart and offers to collect my tears, gives me mercy and grace and promised me eternity with Him?

Psalm 36:17-18 tells me that 

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

I was diagnosed as having major depression and bipolar my entire adult life.  While I will spare you details about all my treatments and therapies, I will let you know about the last few years. 

Due to circumstances in my life over the past eight years of so, let’s just say there have been catastrophic illnesses, financial struggles, failed business, marital struggles, my sisters near fatal accident and my father’s death. 

I spent four years in a very intensive therapy; four hours a day, five days a week. 

I’m telling you all of this because during this time, I also worked in our Youth Ministry as well as our Audiovisual Tech Team (this was a ministry that I built from the beginning when we had just started integrating a new program instead of using PowerPoint); for all the world to see (more about this later). Now I am a very private, introverted, not social, want to be alone kind of person. 

I was so blessed by God and I didn’t realize it. Regardless of the circumstances, however, inside there were days that I literally cried the entire day, or couldn’t get out of bed and feigned that I felt too bad and didn’t leave home for a few weeks except for therapy. 

Fast forward to the time that I officially “graduated therapy” I became elated. 

Then my husband’s affair happened with my best friend, my sister’s wreck and my dad went into hospice.   All within days of each other.

As I was in Bible Study one day, and I was reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts, and I realized, right that moment, I was letting the enemy win!!! 

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How could I work as a ministry assistant, a tech guru, a volunteer replacement Secretary Supply? How could I keep going down the path I was on? 

Fast forward a bit.  

I got so excited about the release of 1000 Gifts, that I actually had ordered four copies without realizing it. While going forward with the book, the challenge, etc., I also realized what Ann was saying; truly applied to my life.  I was NOT choosing, to “Choose Joy”.

Oh my — how immature of me in my Godly walk.  After many prayers, much-needed dates with God,

I made decisions.  Well honestly, God GAVE me the blessing, given the circumstances, to say to myself.  I choose joy!!!  He told me when I woke up in the mornings to think about the day and think about it in the practical aspect, of “I Choose Joy Today”

I am going to get out of bed and make rational, conscious decisions to choose to be positive. 

When I saw my sister lying in the hospital bed in a coma, ‘Choose Joy’ because she is alive.

When I saw my dad dying, ‘Choose Joy’ because I knew he was going to Heaven and going to be pain-free soon.

When the Youth minister left our church, I was not needed there anymore, and the ministry that I started and grew as our Audiovisual ministry, and I was told my services were not needed, no explanation, just no longer needed. I plunged, and I plunged deep. After a period of grief, I realized my problem. I looked at it as MY ministry, not God’s. Oh how wrong I was, and I can see that now.   During all that, I must ‘Choose Joy’

I can see now that I am out of the situation that caused it to begin with. That was my own selfishness talking. After a period of grief, I realized my problem. I looked at it as MY ministry, not God’s. Oh how wrong I was, and I can see that at this now. I can see now that I am out of the situation that caused it to begin with. 

I needed to ‘Choose Joy’ because God gave us the ability to have a youth ministry and a new youth minister who was just awesome and was organized enough that he didn’t need an assistant, and God blessed us with so many things within our church during this time period. I had to open my eyes and realize that what was happening was for God’s benefit. To that I had to ask myself, how can you not “Choose Joy”? 

On the day my husband and I fought about his affair with my best friend. I had to ‘Choose Joy’ because we decided divorce is not an option, and he was willing to work on our marriage, what a blessing that we chose joy.  

 ‘Choose Joy’ no matter what you are doing, whether it is as good thing, or a struggle, makes your day so much better. When you put a smile on your face (not that fake one you plaster on to tell everyone “I’m fine”) but a real, unencumbered smile. A smile that says, I Choose to be Happy, and I freely choose to love a God that lets me have that option and through everything He gives me, blessings, good, bad, hard, easy, JOY wins throughout it all. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I still take my medication. I am, however, depressed on days, and at the same time. I know that I can see the joy in anything if I look hard enough 

I am not saying that your days will magically become perfect. They won’t. The struggles will still be there. 

By ‘Choosing Joy’, your days become joy filled because you make them that way. By seeing the beauty in the fall leaves, or the drop of water on a glass that makes the rainbow colors, in the laugh of a baby, or the person in hospice that is dying, but you KNOW they are going to Heaven. What an enormous Joy that will be. The day we see Jesus in person. 

Where every day is with a joy, we have never met here on earth. 

Wake up to joy every single day, and you will find that even with depression and being bipolar, you can see happiness. 

Now I wouldn’t be responsible enough if I didn’t add a disclaimer here. If you are struggling with depression, and you are to the point where you feel like you want to hurt yourself or someone else, please seek help. Ask someone to help you get help. On the other hand, if you know someone who is in that place, please take every word they say earnestly 

I have been in those shoes, in two ways; being the person who wanted to hurt myself, and the one left by a person who has completed their suicide. 

Take them for their word, get them help and pray.  but you can’t fix them.  They must find it within himself to want to be fixed and the desire to get up everyday and ‘Choose Joy’

This activity of Choosing Joy, while it’s a great thing, for some, they can’t see past their own pain. 

1 Thessalonians 16:18, NIV be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s

will for you in Christ Jesus.  

Now you can also say that this looks and sounds easy. This was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, looking for blessings even in the bad times, no matter what. 
I am a negative person by trait. However, I choose to be a positive person and wake up to

‘ Choosing Joy’ every single day.

 

 If you are reading this, somehow you are interested in depression, or you have depression or God has led you here maybe to help someone, or whatever reason you are reading this.

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Know that you are being prayed for. I have poured my heart out here and prayed over these words. I am also going to continue praying for everyone that reads this! God knows exactly who you are and exactly what you need and exactly why you need it.

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I am sure it will touch many hearts. What an encouragement to always seek JOY!

    Like

  2. Great job, and thanks for praying for me. 🙂 God, Bless this post and all that read it. In Jesus Name, Amen

    Like

  3. This is absolutely true. Many people feel that depression will just “pass” or some people are even “shamed” because if you are a Christian then why are you depressed. Depression is real and can be all consuming but when we choose to focus on our Father, focus on the facts and focus on JOY it helps. Yes, you may need medical help as well, but so much is said about our attitude towards the things we face.

    thanks for such a great encouraging post!

    @spreadingJOY
    Marie

    Like

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