Replace the “I’ll Be Happy When” Mindset with the Joy of Here and Now
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8 NIV
When you are experiencing a season of unknowns, do you feel like everything has to be resolved before you can start life again?
Occasionally, I struggle to embrace the sweetness of my faith when life feels like it is beyond what I can bear. During these times, I try to search for pockets of joy. And yet, I don’t know how to release the guilty feeling that if I let up, I could let one thing slip, and everything could be lost. I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be that way.
God always provides for our needs—especially in times of trials. He even creates us unique interests and talents within us to help us find joy and harmony—even our circumstances feel overwhelming. These gifts were entrusted to us as a source of hope.
Gardeners are visionaries. They spend an entire spring digging in the dirt, praising the presence of worms, envisioning the beauty ahead.
Nurses are optimists. They spend their careers helping people heal, finding opportunities to create memorable moments, understanding the power of joy.
Moms are hopeful. They spend their lives loving and guiding their children, giving of themselves, passing on the gift of wisdom.
I see the gardeners, the nurses, and the moms—I want to be like them! They help me understand that joy isn’t a destination that is reserved for the end of a difficult journey, it’s part of it.
The process of change
New circumstances normally involve three phases, which can be compared to swinging into a lake from a rope swing.
- The launch or the loss requires letting go of the rope.
- The transition occurs once you let go. You are in the air, which means you are neither here nor there.
- The new beginning is your landing into the water.
This is the second part of our series on how God constantly transforms us. In Part I, we looked at loss, so today, we are exploring how to lessen the impact of anxiety when God is preparing us for something new. So, I’d like to share with you one way my family found hope, love, and laughter on a day that could have been framed in sadness.
I never doubted my mom would be at my daughter’s wedding. Mom always believed she would be there, too. Grandmothers do have dreams and expectations about their involvement on such momentous days. As a master gardener, Mom planned gardens every year with a section of Jordan’s wedding flowers. Gerber daisies, also known as African daisies, filled Jordan’s designated area with thick green stems, coarse leaves, and brilliantly colored flowers.
And then there was the mirror. From the day Jordan first toddled up to the full-length mirror, Mom told her, “You are going to get dressed for your wedding in that mirror.”
We all believed it.
Jordan grew, and the daisy crop became more beautiful and refined every year. The mirror watched over our conversations. Jordan and I drank in Mom’s wisdom as we sipped our tea, summer after summer. Eventually, Jordan started college, finished college, graduated with her BSN in nursing, and began her adult life.
My mom, the daisies, and the mirror were all getting closer to fulfilling their dream. And then cancer forced us onto a rope swing none of us expected. Eventually, we accepted that mom didn’t have enough time to grow the flowers or watch Jordan dress in the mirror on her wedding day.
But Jordan had an idea.
“Mom, do you still have your wedding dress?” she asked innocently, already knowing the answer.
When I confirmed I had it, she shared her plan. “You know this weekend will probably be the last time I will get to visit Grandma. I think you should bring your dress, and I will put it on in my mirror for Grandma. We can make a beautiful memory.”
“But I think it will make us cry.” I countered.
“That’s ok, Mom. Eventually, we’ll get to the joy.”
She was right. My mother had her own plan, too. After we delighted in watching Jordan dress in her mirror and model my wedding dress, Mom opened a box next to her bed.
“This was my wedding hat.” She put it on her head and surveyed her reflection in Jordan’s mirror. Cancer took a break, as love filled Mom’s entire being and transformed her back into a beautiful bride.
I could have missed it. The beautiful afternoon, the laughter, the memories, all because I felt our transition should be a time of sadness, a time of anxiety, and a period of planning for what happens next.
Sweet Friend- don’t miss those opportunities. During the time of being neither here nor there, your emotions will hover close to the surface. Things that didn’t seem like a big deal will suddenly become more significant and higher than the Rocky Mountains. But God doesn’t expect you to put good stuff on the end of a stick, making setbacks even more devastating. He hasn’t put you in adult time-out, expecting you to earn your way through this with good behavior because He knows you can’t.
The good news is you don’t have to wait –
For the vision of the gardener to see the beauty that lies ahead
For the optimism of the nurse to understand the power of joy.
For the hopefulness of a mother to pass on the gift of wisdom.
God wants you to have it all right now, even in the hard times. He wants you to relish these moments because you understand that this time is all about grace—His grace.
God’s unconditional love for us can’t be earned. Grace is His kindness and the truth. He wants the best for us, even though we are unworthy. God, Our Father, is giving us His Goodness, even though we are undeserving. There is nothing we can do as we fly through the air of uncertainty that will guarantee the outcome we want. Instead, we simply need to let go and honestly believe that God will hold us up and ensure our safe landing.
We have lost the ability to have empathy for our own hurting souls.
It isn’t about fixing things. It’s the brave choice to rely on God’s grace in the darkness.
So how do you let God take away your anxiety and turn it into a time of harmony?
Here are five short readings that will help you embrace this heightened time of grace.
When Anxiety Says: Let Grace Reply:
I am invisible You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4
I am nothing special But you are God’s chosen treasure. 1 Peter 2:9
I am too broken to go on Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am vulnerable I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
I am unlovable I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 29:11
You may feel like you are falling, but in reality, God is extending His arms wide, catching you in the embrace of undeserved goodness. It is here you will reconnect with the sweetness of your faith.
“Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” Max Lucado
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I see Your grace, I feel the reassurance of Your open arms. Help me remember that you don’t want me to wait for good things, You want me to see Your provision, Your protection, and feel Your peace right now. As your child, I don’t have to wait for someday. Things may be difficult, but I know you see my struggles. Help me find comfort in obedience to your authority, understanding Your grace is unlimited.
In Jesus’ Name I Pray. Amen
One step further:
One way to give grace a voice is to give it the space to be heard. I have found that putting a Bible verse on the visor of my car is a great reminder. When I’m at a stoplight, I can flip the visor down, read it, and feel refreshed.
Bonus: It is also a good conversation starter for a passenger needing some encouragement.
Stepping Out in Faith:
It may feel uncomfortable to talk to someone who seems like their life is overwhelming, and their joy appears to be on hold. Offer to listen. No agenda, no fixing things, just be a friend who is willing to hear their hurts.
If the Holy Spirit guides you, it might be ok to offer to do something memorable, too. As I said in this article, nurses are great at finding special moments.
When our youngest son, Justin, was in the hospital, the nurses had Mickey Mouse stop by for a picture. At first, I couldn’t believe this could be any kind of a photo opportunity! He was just six weeks old, and in the first hours of recovery after surgery. The nurses knew what they were doing, however. That photo helped me find rest and peace throughout the night. Each time I woke up, I looked at the image of my son, knowing he was on his way to recovery and times of joy were ahead.
A prayer for loved ones searching for pockets of joy.
I am so thankful I can rely on Your saving grace, even in times of instability. You are my hope, my joy, my companion—willing to walk with me through it all. And yet, there are some of your children who don’t understand your promises.
You have entrusted my loved ones and my friends to me so that I would have an opportunity to help them see the difference in a life centered on faith. Keep me humble. Direct my words to reflect Your compassion.
Please walk with my loved one, provide them with times of joy, and show them the hope that is found in You alone.
In Your Name I Pray,