Hello everyone! Day 2 in The Fruit Of The Spirit Series is here! Today our guest poster is Stephanie from the Just A Little Bit Louder Blog! I "met" Stephanie just a few weeks ago but she has quickly become one of my favorite people! She is from The Northwest and is a Children & Youth Pastor. So basically she has super incredible patience and a huge heart! Plus she is real, honest, relatable and HILARIOUS! We have so much in common and I am so lucky to know her! PLEASE go check out her blog because she is awesome and I love her so I know you will too!
I tend to think in extremes. When I process any decision, I think of either the ultimate best situation or the absolute worst consequence. Once I made the mistake of teaching the teenage girls at my church to filter all their words through this: “Helpful or Hurtful?” and it ruined all of my fun because I’d say “Ew, you mix your slurpee flavors together? You are a freak of nature.” and one girl, Sarah, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Stephanie. Helpful or hurtful?” Ugh.
Anyway. I used to think that the opposite of sadness was joy. Like my whole life I thought that if you cried or felt sad or anything, you didn’t have joy.
When I was 20 I was diagnosed with depression. I reached out to my church and they didn’t have anything to give me except a shrug and a “pray more.” Then they would continue to talk about things like “joy” and “peace” and I’d sit there thinking “what in the freaking heck is wrong with me, and why do I cry every single night instead of being so happy and so cheerful and stuff?”
And it took me like 7 years to figure it out. Seven years of wondering why God had passed me by when he was distributing joy and gave me a lot of sadness instead. But one day, when I was feeling happy, I started wondering why my happiness would always fade away back into sadness. If that was what joy was, then why did it always go away? I prayed about it for awhile and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
In all of my sadness, through all of my tears, despite my always-broken heart... I continually turned hopeful eyes towards the Lord, confident of his delight in me. When I looked around at the things of this earth, I would experience temporary, fleeting emotions. Feeling happy or accepted or rejected or alone or unworthy or appreciated. The point is, it was all temporary. Feeling unworthy would fade away when a whole table full of people I admired would laugh at my jokes. Feeling sad faded away when I was happy.
I’d actually had joy the whole entire time, because in the deepest depths of my sorrow I knew the One to cry out to, the One who was listening and crying for me. Joy wasn’t -and still isn’t- the result of any earthly circumstance. You know when you’re having a rough day and you FEEL overlooked and you FEEL unimportant and you FEEL not good enough, and then you stumble upon a word from God - maybe in a song, maybe through a person, maybe on a piece of paper tucked away in a book... and you close your eyes and breathe deeply the assurance of God’s existence and his love for you? I think that moment is joy. It’s quiet, but it’s constant. It’s unchangeable. It’s untouchable. It’s eternal.
Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your thoughts on this subject with us!
Be sure to check from every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from now until December 5th to keep up with this series!