Does the world seem bleak or devastating these days? Are you constantly bogged down with the problems going on in the world? It doesn’t have to be this way, but how do we get to a place of joy again?
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I will be the first to say this Pandemic has forced me into an unwanted sadness. I am constantly battling the misconception of bad people. It sometimes feels as if the world is against me, but I know there are NO Bad People in the World.
In fact I’m extremely conservative and I’m living among many many many neighbors who have different political opinions than I have. It literally took turning off the news and deleting Facebook to help me realize, my neighbors are not so different than me. My family can live cohesively with friends and neighbors who have different opinions, and we do!
This leads me to my first point…
Let down your guard!
If you feel the world is against you, your wrong! If you let down your guard you will find allies. Something that may surprise you is that you will inevitably find allies among those who think “differently” than you.
Every human is unique, this is God’s great plan. So if we are to see ourselves as unique, then shouldn’t we be open to learning what makes others unique?
When you see your neighbor with complete opposite political views (We’ve all seen the crazy election signs), you may make the assumption they’re a certain type of “people”. And not to get too rude and vulgar, but when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.
Bottom line, it’s wrong to assume anything about your neighbor. I don’t think you’d want anyone to decide who you were without getting to know you either. Prime example, if you have siblings, how different are you than your own brothers and sisters? You were raised by the same people, you must be the same? I’m not my mom, I’m not my dad, and I’m not my grandparents…. yet we tend to just assume whatever fits the narrative we have going in our minds.
Look for the good around you!
Whether you’re a fan of Pollyanna, like me, and know how to play the Glad Game, or you’re indebted to Mister Rogers and all his knowledge including “Find the helpers” you’ll understand this part does take work. It actually takes practice too.
If you’re only consumed with the bad around you then you’ll inevitably be stuck there. If you want to get out of that state of mind, you’ll have to practice. And often, that will look like you’re faking it. I did this when I decided to make some changes in my marriage (it’s a great read if you’re up for it). My life would have stayed exactly the same, had I not faked a smile, or stifled my frustration here and there.
The good in the world is there! This pandemic sucks, but I’m enjoying my time homeschooling my kids. I’m seeing how much I need a community in my life, and oddly enough feeling confined to home has brought me closer to the ladies on my street. I can’t wait until we can have our new community over for a meal and some drinks. And ultimately let ourselves enjoy each others presence in the world.
The pandemic has also brought to my attention the amount of excess I have in my life, both tangible items and emotions/feelings. I read more, I learn more, I teach more, I have a great opportunity to be happy with who I am, instead of who the world wants me to be. The great thing about this pandemic, despite my periodic sadness, is I’m still coming out of it a better person.
Know who is feeding you the lies!
Okay, you can blame all of the internet and the media for ALL of your troubles, or you can wake up and realize it’s much BIGGER than that.
The devil is real, and he’s been working on deteriorating our world: our thoughts, desires, our hearts, and any little piece of us we allow him to get his hands on.
What is going on with the state of our nation (I mean the world too, but let’s start with what we know more about)? In a nutshell, people have very little morals. The devil is attacking our families… our marriage. People, in general, justify their bad habits or less than godly desires, because it makes them happy (myself included). The truth is happiness isn’t our ultimate goal… it’s holiness.
Here is a link to a fantastic youtube conversation with the Amazing Matt Fradd.
Here he talks about some of our mistakes as lay people in allowing the devil to sort of seep into our lives unknowingly. I urge you to listen or watch to continue with the thoughts I added above. You won’t be disappointed.
Choose to change yourself.
You can only control yourself, you can’t control your spouse or kids, and much less you can’t control your friends, neighbors, and extended families. So start with you! If you change yourself and you find Joy, then let your Joy shine and overpower the negatives coming in from the outside. Doing this will more than likely cause your close ones to change too.
Be persistent, because it may take months or even years, but your basically making a lifestyle change, so that’s to be expected. It’s not much different than changing your eating habits, or breaking the habit of smoking and drinking for that matter.
There’s no great plan, or agenda, you just literally have to choose to do this. Do it for you and no on else and then pray! I’ve hear this quote multiple times but I haven’t the slightest clue who said it. “Work like it’s all up to you and Pray like it’s all up to God.”
J.O.Y is an Acronym
One of the greatest ways to find joy is to serve others, but is there a “right” way to serve. No, not really, but maybe there’s a right order to serve in. I believe that if you first serve JESUS, then serve OTHERS, before serving YOURSELF, then you will find JOY
J for Jesus. O for Others. Y for Yourself.
Serving people doesn’t have to be working in food kitchens and giving money to the poor. Though that is incredible and one fantastic way to serve Jesus!
Serving people can look like allowing the car to cut in front of you. It can be as simple as getting coffee with a friend. Sometimes your acts may be be bigger as in a meal to a neighbor, paying for another’s lunch ticket, or settling up the overdrawn lunch accounts at the local school.
Service to yourself is usually just giving yourself grace. We tend to believe we don’t deserve forgiveness from ourselves on the tough stuff, but we do. We also cut ourselves down, maybe we believe that’s humility, but it isn’t. God wants us to know our gifts and to use them in a way to honor Him. Know yourself, and love yourself.
Change the World
We may not be able to change the world immediately, but we can change ourselves little by little (knowing we will still have failures to work on), and pray it sparks change in those around us.