The Joy of Letting Go

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In 26 days my oldest daughter will be graduating high school.

I am not sure if it is the fact that she could soon be leaving home or other factors influencing our life right now, but my wanting to hold on, wanting to control my life and the life of my family has been at an all time high. Time and time again over the last couple months, these words have been playing in my heart and mind.

It is time to let go.

What is it about letting go, that causes anxiety to rise up inside? Or why is it, when faced with letting go, we  hold on even tighter, or try and control other areas in our life?

This tension, this battle of control/letting go isn’t new. It was present from the very beginning, from those first moments in the garden…the need to be god, the desire to know, and the desire to control.

“You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil…” – Genesis 3:4,5

Our need to know, our need to control was part of our original sin, while God’s heart was for us to trust and depend on Him; to trust in His goodness. Yet we know how the story ended. We know how it played out then and how it plays out today when we try and control situations and others. It gives birth to frustration.

“pain in childbearing…he will rule over you…cursed ground…by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…” Genesis 3:16-19

The truth of the matter is, we can control no one. As much as we try, we are not made for control, we are made for freedom.

In Danny Silk’s book, “Loving your kids on purpose” he talks about control. ”The lie that we can control others, is the biggest lie in human relationships. If we can be delivered from this one, deeply rooted lie, then there is hope that we can change the dynamics that cause so much anxiety between people.” (75)

And he goes on to say, “The only person we can control is ourselves.”(80)

No matter how much  of a challenge this is, there is a freedom in letting go. When I realize ultimately I cannot control another, I lay that down and look instead to what I can control, such as my reactions, my words, and my feelings. This is never easy, but with God’s Spirit these are the areas I can influence. The added bonus is, when I am focused on these areas there is little time left to control anything else.

So in these 26 days, I want to find joy in what is and what is to come, rather than holding on to things which were never meant to be held.

“Noble” faith

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I watched a movie the other evening I had been wanting to see for some time. It is called,

“Noble”

after the main character’s last name. It is the inspiring story of Christina Noble. The movie weaves together Christina’s past as an orphaned child with her work later in life to help orphaned children in Vietnam. There were many parts of the movie which stirred me, and I knew they would. But because I knew little about Christina before watching this movie there was one aspect of the story I was not expecting.

It was one of faith.

I do not want to give pieces of the movie away, because I think you should watch it, but this much I do want to share. Christina did not have an easy life. Anything but. Time after time, she experienced pain, loss, hurt, and disappointment. And time after time the movie shows her walking into church, lighting a candle, and talking to God. She was honest about her pain, her doubts, and whether she could even follow him. But she did not walk away. In her honesty, she continued to go and look for God, and she continued to talk to him. In fact one of the last lines in the movie was…

“She still talks to God…”

And this made me stop and think, maybe the most incredible act of faith is not the kind which moves mountains, or raises the dead. Maybe it is simply the kind that will come back, time after time and talk to God, sharing each hurt and disappointment.

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him;” Job 13:15

I saw God today, in faith.

“She still talks to God…”

What does faith look like for you today?

Words

I am not sure when or how this practice started.

Choosing one, new little word for the year.

For this girl who is easily distracted and often wonders about the meaning of life, it brings a little bit of focus and meaning to the new year.

This year rather than searching for a new word, It seemed as if my word found me. As I was writing my advent series this year, the word

joy

continued to roll around in my thoughts long after I was done writing. I felt like I was not finished with joy or it was not finished with me. In any case it is a fitting word for this glass half empty girl.

So in saying farewell to the old year and welcoming the new,

I am welcoming joy…

choosing this one little word to journey beside

as I continue to look for God in the midst of each day.

Will you join me?

(with joy, or another word of your choosing)

 

Advent – Joy

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“What happened to your joy?” – Galatians 4:15

“…now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22

This Christmas season as I have thought about joy; I have seen those things which give great joy and on the opposite hand those things which just as easily can take it away.

Have you ever thought about who or what it is that steals your joy…?

A harsh word

Comparison (“the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt)

Envy

Conflict

Focusing on self

Jesus warned us about one who steals. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10) He also told a story of a farmer, a seed, and the evil one who wanted to steal the seed. (Matthew 13:1-23) Jesus was speaking of stealing the message of our salvation, but the evil one is also one who steals our joy and will use whatever means he can to do it.

If we were to consider our joy as something that could be taken away or stolen, we might treat this joy differently. In the same way we guard and protect our material possessions (we lock our houses, our cars) against thieves, we might strive harder to protect our joy, a pearl of great worth.

So how do we protect our joy?

It could be guarding our heart against things which would want to steal it away. For me during this Christmas season, it was taking a break from Instagram and the comparison Instagram was feeding in my life. For you it might be something else. When you begin to give it some thought, you can start to pinpoint those thieves of joy circling your life.

Protecting joy, might also mean adding things into our lives which create joy. This holiday season Christmas music has brought me much joy (“…the best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf) bringing a smile to my face and leading to kitchen dance parties with my girls.

Here are a few of the songs I’ve been listening to…I dare you to just try and not dance🙂

Noel – Hillsong Young & Free

Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor

and then my favorite…

Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’ ” – Luke 1:10

Jesus, God Emmanuel  – our joy.

 

Advent – love

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

If you have ever traveled, you know how wonderful it is to be away, but even better is the feeling when coming home. It is the familiarity, the comfort, and the sense of belonging greeting you at the front door. You are home.

Some days our home is that restful place. A house my family wants to come home to after a long day at school or work. This is how I want it to feel. But more often than not, this home can instead be filled with tension, criticism, or nagging. Hardly the place of refuge I picture:)

This physical image of coming home, of belonging and rest, is a good representation of what our true home will be …eternity with God.  But as we go through our days and are faced with critique, selfishness, comparison, rejection, or other things weighing us down; home can seem like a far away place. And we find ourselves longing, longing for that place of rest, longing for home.

So if this is you today…

I pray you will find grace in the tension of waiting.

I pray you will come home to Jesus,

and to the body of people He intended to be our home.

I pray if you have already found your way home,

you would notice the ones who have not,

and you would be home for them.

For, isn’t this why Jesus came?

His love leading us home.

 

 

Advent – Peace

Last week I went on a search for peace, knowing peace would be the focus of our advent series at church this past Sunday and here on the blog this week. I also went looking, just because I was longing for a little peace in my own life.

When I started this page, I was not sure what I was going to write, because I am still learning what it means to live with peace. Yet as I dug deeper, I did start to see some little signs, these little guideposts God leaves along the way to show us just where His peace can be found.

God’s peace – born to this earth in the lowliest of places. His peace birthed through His written and living word. The peace mankind was longing for had come at last. It is no wonder the angels shouted out to the shepherds…

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:14

So today I am looking for peace

and finding it

when I let go of…

stuff –

The one who received the seed among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. – Matt. 13:22

If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me, will find it…” – Matt. 16:24

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1Tim. 6:6,7

control –

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” – Psalm 20:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6

comparison –

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” – Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

the past –

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing…I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” – Colossians 1:20

…and grab hold of Jesus and only Him.

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” – Psalm 119:165

His written and living word – our peace!

 

Advent – Hope

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Have you ever spent time waiting for something? I do not mean packages from amazon, or a call from a friend. I mean waiting, really longing for something; waiting for the right one to come along, or waiting to be healed,  waiting to get pregnant, or waiting for a loved one to know Jesus. A waiting or longing that sits at our very core and the marrow of who we are.

Over 2000 years ago, the Israelites were waiting. They were waiting for deliverance, deliverance from oppression, from living under rulers who did not share the same beliefs they did. For 400 years they waited. And when their deliverer finally did come, some did not recognize him and some were possibly a little disappointed over what the deliverance looked like. I can imagine during those 400 years and even after there was  a little disappointment, a little hope deferred…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

I thought of this verse recently as a friend was sharing their journey of waiting, and as I thought of my own prayers awaiting answers. What does it mean hope deferred, or to defer hope?

Defer: to put off (an action or event) to a later time, postpone. 

Looking at this verse, I see when I push hope off or stop hoping; it leaves me with a heavy heart. When I can instead hold on to hope, and choose to trust even when I do not see the outcome, this hope will eventually bear fruit.

“But blessed is the man who trusts (to be confident or sure – be bold (make to) hope (put make to trust)) in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

We like the Israelites are still waiting, waiting for answers to prayers and even more, waiting for Jesus to come again. If we can trust Him to be our  deliverer, Jesus to be our hope, He will make sure our trust and hope bears fruit in Him.

Jesus –

“All our hopes and fears are met in Him tonight…” – Peace, Peace by Sara Groves