How do you have more joy? That was a question I asked myself numerous times during the turmoil of my final two years of corporate life. I was a Christian. I should be happy. I shouldn’t struggle with having a joyful spirit. So, I didn’t, at least that’s what I told myself and tried to portray to others. I put on my fake mask of happiness..and .. tried to fake it.
The inner struggle to give up a corporate career.
God had been calling me home and I didn’t want to give up the corporate world. They needed me. And, I needed the job. Not so much for the income, although it was nice. But, I needed the sense of self-worth and that I was doing something that contributed to the world. I worked for a recycling company. My footprint to the world was that I was saving it. But, I knew I wasn’t where God wanted me to be or doing what God wanted me to do, even though it was a noble profession.
Then, my mother had her two strokes within one month of each other. Life knocks you down.That life-changing event was my wake-up call. I was also having very bad peri-menopausal symptoms. Life knocks you down. Everyday it was like I was a powder-keg about to explode. My usual “Pollyanna” attitude became snarky and mean which is not at all like ME. I began to morph into a person I didn’t like. Life knocks you down. The husband and I started formulating my escape plan from cubicle nation. My career was stressful, and it was going to have to go. During the two years of planning, I had to work very hard on my joy. One of the scriptures I read many times was James 1:2-4. I sure did feel as though I was going through many temptations and trials.
Let me share some of the things I learned about joy…
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (KJV.) Another version (NIV) says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
Consider, or count means “Coming first in priority or what goes before, in front.”
Next, move to the word joy. In this scripture, joy means joy/delight/gladness and a source of the joy, extend favor, LEAN TOWARDS, GRACE RECOGNIZED, cheerfulness, CALM delight. Wow, don’t you just love the varying meanings of such a simple, three-letter word like JOY!?
But, think about it. God is asking that I (WE) make it our first priority to LEAN towards those adversities with a GRACE RECOGNIZED and a CALM DELIGHT.
I’ve known about this scripture for years. And, when facing a tough time I’ve learned to acknowledge that God has his hand in the tapestry of my life. He sees the beautiful picture from Heaven above while I only see the dangling threads, the knots and the crisscross of patterns from the earthly, underside view.
But, “calm delight” wouldn’t be a phrase I’ve ever used to describe the trials. And I sure haven’t leaned into them.
Lean In To Joy
When I think of the phrase ‘lean in’ I’m reminded of our son when he was little. He learned when he was on the swing set that if he leaned in as the swing was going forward he would go higher.
And I know from my old days on the ski slope, that if you lean in, you go faster down the hill. Leaning in means you WANT to get to and BE IN and GET THROUGH to the next phase.
One of the things I realized after I acknowledged it was time to end my career, was the calmness that washed over my spirit. The job was the same, and the work environment was the same. But, for the four weeks during my final resignation I was almost giddy. It wasn’t because I was quitting. It was because the trial and temptation were over. I had heeded to His guidance. I didn’t know what was on the other side. But, I had come through it. I had realized it was time to end the career and I listened to Him.
I don’t know what trial or adversity you’re facing right now. It may be a personal one that you haven’t acknowledged to anyone. Or, it could be a sickness you can’t shake. Or, it may be an upheaval in your family that’s breaking your heart. I don’t know the answer or the outcome. But, I’m learning, lean into it. Don’t give up the faith. You will make it through.
Mom’s Power Prayer: “Lord, please help me to put my priorities first during difficulty and trials. Guide me as I lean into the adversity to have a spirit of calm delight. I know you will use the test to my benefit.”
My biggest help was to pray. Even when I didn’t feel like praying, I HAD to pray. Some of my favorite prayer techniques are in my book The Creative Prayer Journal.
Kim Steadman is a wife, mother and proud Meme. She retired from corporate life to bring her heart, mind, body and soul home and to start her creative writing journey. Her writing works include “The Creative Prayer Journal” and “The Diary of a Recycled Dog.” She loves to help other creatives nurture the connection between their faith & creativity.