where did my joy go?

Keeping true to my character, I’ve been running away from my problems.

If I’m honest, I’ve been burdened heavily for the past week, and I couldn’t even tell you why. My heart was just heavy, and I was weary in every part of me… But I refused to process what was happening. I diverted my attention to my classes that were just beginning. I chose in to being present with people constantly. I made myself do extra work around the house just so I wouldn’t be idle. I started about 4 different TV shows so that I could have background noise.

I let my mind go numb as my thoughts fizzled into white noise. But, oh, did my heart and spirit continue to feel what I refused to let my head acknowledge. I woke up bitterly angry one morning, I felt insecure and inadequate constantly, and I found my anxiety peaking as I went throughout my day.

Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I got into my car, and as soon as “Come Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger* came on, I just started bawling. All of a sudden these deep hurts, this aching loneliness, and complete sense of loss overpowered me. And OH BOY, was I caught off guard.

It was at this point that God led me to call a friend who spent the next hour speaking truth to me. I left that conversation feeling refreshed, convicted, and excited.

So what happened?

This is what I had initially thought. It had seemed that lately, I had been split between worlds trying to bridge the two together. I am at my church where I feel that God has called me into ministry, but I feel as if I have no real deep connections there (though I desire to bond with those I’m working with). And I have my deep community who are all involved in their own ministry that I chose to step out of because God has been calling me into my church (but I wanted nothing more than to work with the people I loved the most).

I wanted both the work that God had called me into and the deep community I invest in all at once. I wanted the two halves of my heart to finally be put together so it could be whole again. But, because it wasn’t, I had felt just a little displaced no matter where I went. This is just the surface issue.

The deeper issue was that I was looking for ministry and community to fill a hole that only God could really fill.

In avoiding my hurt, I avoided God. I was missing out on chances to work out my life with my Creator, who was simply just asking for my thoughts, my heart… and I was avoiding Him.

After listening to me babble for a while, my friend asked “I just wonder what robbed you of your joy?” I was surprised by that question, but I couldn’t deny it’s validity. I wasn’t joyful, and I hadn’t been deeply joyful for a while now. It was then that I immediately began to understand that something was seriously off.

My friend said a lot of things about ministry and community that I will deal with later, but there’s a deeper issue at hand that has ended up being the root of everything: I wasn’t putting God first.

In my excitement to do God’s work, in my eagerness to care well for my friends, in my concern over my parents’ well-being, in my anxiety for the future, and even in my academic and professional work… I somehow let building my intimacy with God slip away. He wasn’t getting my heart, which led to my complete unawareness of my own spirit, and also put a barrier between me and the people I love the most (whether or not they noticed)… which… fudge… this makes me cringe, because I’ve spent the last 6 months trying to tear down my walls, but it turns out I had been constructing new ones instead.

So here we go again, I have a new set of a walls that I have to tear down again. But it’s okay, this time I’m letting God take over the process.

You know what’s beautiful? I’m convicted. I’m ashamed that I let the greatest love of my life take the passenger seat… but I feel so alive and frankly… loved. Why? Because God isn’t chastising me. He’s not rolling His eyes in annoyance at me. He’s smiling as we switch seats so that He can be the driver again. He’s opening His arms out to welcome His prodigal daughter. He’s once again, inviting me into deeper intimacy with Him, and I am so ready to fall deeply in love with my Creator.

Promises to myself this year:

  • Continue to meditate on Scripture day and night… because goshdarnit, I used to be madly in love with reading it… I want to get back to that.
  • Talk to God, like all the time. Everywhere. Anywhere.
  • But be intentional about prayer.
  • Tear down those damn walls and stop trying to make new ones.
  • Choose into community even when it’s hard,
  • But also choose into time with God all the time.
  • Learn to care well for myself again.

Additionally… sorry to all my loved ones who bore the brunt of this and had no idea what was happing. Frankly, I had no idea what was going on with my heart either… my bad guys, my bad. Turns out if I can’t be transparent with God, I can’t be transparent with anyone else either… even myself. Sorry if I was snappy and distant. Sorry if you tried to press in but I pushed you away. Sorry especially to Jelly, who has literally been at her wit’s end trying to figure out how to care well for an uncooperative patient.

Come out of hiding
You’re safe here with Me
There’s no need to cover
What I already see

You’ve got your reasons
But I hold your peace
You’ve been on lockdown
And I hold the key

I loved you before you knew it was love
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
And you were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave

Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home

I’ll be your lighthouse
When you’re lost at sea
And I will illuminate

No need to be frightened
By intimacy
No, just throw off your fear
And come running to Me

And oh as you run
What hindered love
Will only become
Part of the story

Baby, you’re almost home now
Please don’t quit now
You’re almost home to Me

~Come Out Of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger*

I’m looking forward to rediscovering joy again.

-Soli Deo Gloria


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