“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”- Nehemiah 8:10
I often feel weak- crippled by anxieties, riddled by insecurities, static in fear. Being a new mother, these emotions have a tendency to abound even more. Last fall, as I was adapting to motherhood, I decided I had a choice. A choice whether to be controlled by the fear of how vulnerable a newborn baby can be. A choice whether to grieve the loss of self that comes along with the sacrifice of being a mother. A choice whether to be overwhelmed with figuring out a new routine in life.
I’m not saying that I am immune to the above things, in fact I tend to fail at them daily! But more often than not, they are blips rather than crushing waves. I’ve had to bring myself back to this choice after recently really struggling with anxiety over Judah’s health (sickness has been rampant this winter).
What makes me strong? Choosing joy! There are to be ever changing circumstances and plenty of fearful things in the world that would make me think that I am to choose otherwise. So how do I choose joy? -True, unwavering joy comes from the Lord. It is a Christian virtue and as one of the fruits of the Spirit, we are all called to embody it. I am pulled back time and time again to Paul’s decree to the Phillipians:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” (Verses 5-8)
I have to choose to lay my anxieties down at the foot of the cross through prayer, and actually leave them there. On a side note, I have a close friend that we are each other’s prayer partners and at any time during the day we are experiencing anxiety, we reach out to each other for prayer and for wisdom to work through the thoughts behind those anxieties. If you can find a person to have this with, it helps tremendously!
I choose to focus on the good (even if I have to sit down and actually start counting them out) and praise God for those blessings and most importantly, His goodness.
I choose to put a smile on my face and play with my son, even when my insecurities that “I may be a bad mom” are overwhelming me.
I choose to get things done at nap time rather than sulk/sleep because in the end, I know these bad feelings are merely fleeting and I’ll feel better if I accomplish things.
Sometimes I choose a time out, and I’ll read my Bible because it almost always resets the course of my thoughts.
We often live like our feelings inform our actions. When in reality, feelings are flighty and unreliable- good choices generate rewarding feelings.
Joy is a choice that we have to be highly intentional about. It is there for our taking.