This is what I am trying to do lately. Not think and figure and plan…..just watch and listen and be. I fail many, many times at this, but the times where I can rest in the beauty of what God has made and Who He is…..what joy.
“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11
Joie de vivre….French for the “joy of living.” A cheerful enjoyment of life, an exultation of the spirit. Cheerfulness, joyfulness, exuberance, liveliness, enthusiasm.
After writing yesterday’s post on Carpe diem, seize the day, the phrase joie de vivre instantly popped into my mind. I have been thinking on it ever since….how do I find that joy of living again? That exuberance, energy, enthusiasm that I haven’t seen in myself for a few months? That “Yay! It’s a new day….let’s go!” feeling I had as a kid when all was new and bright and wonderful. I don’t know about you, but I miss that feeling.
It is much easier to have joie de vivre when things are going well. When there is no stress, no day to day troubles that creep up, no chronic pain or disease, no family troubles. But everyone I talk to and know of is going through some pretty major trouble these days. And that should be no surprise, because Jesus said in Matthew, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” But it’s hard to walk through these troubles all the time and keep my face from staying in the permafrown.
I have by no means figured this out, but here are some of my thoughts and my pep talk to myself on attaining joy amidst trouble:
–Take heart.….He has overcome the world. Jesus gives us the key right here. He has conquered this world. There is something more, something beyond these troubles. Eternal life with Him with no sickness, no sadness, no death. Praise and beauty and goodness forever. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18
–Focus on the love and others. The more I think about my problems, the bigger they loom. If I try my best to be there and listen and empathize with others, I instantly feel better. My church is big on cooking for others in need….I am a horrible cook, so I save everyone the stomachache and send encouraging cards when I can. Or call. I don’t do this as much as I should, but it really helps take your mind off your own problems.
-Sometimes though, the helping and listening to others can weigh me down. I tend to take on everyone else’s problems too much, and my mind whirls around trying to figure out how to fix everything. That’s when I need to go outside, and focus on nature, God’s creation. A tree, a bird, a flower, the wind…..anything that reminds me that God alone is in charge of all these problems.
-Find someone you love and hug them. A good, long hug that lets them know you are there and that you need them. Your spouse, your child, your pet, a friend. I feel my stress just melt away, and the joy of life return.
–Laugh. As much as you can. I especially enjoy laughing at myself, not in a mean way, but in a “wow, that was awesome” kind of way. It really helps me not take things too seriously, which I tend to do.
–Eat healthy delicious foods you love and make your body feel good. Enjoy each bite and look forward to the meal. I am absolutely crazy about breakfast. And a delicious two egg omelet with swiss cheese, topped with a bit of salsa. I look forward to that breakfast every morning.
–Find the exercise that you are able to physically do. I have a disability that now prevents me taking the long walks I used to, but I have a lovely NuStep machine that I can pedal on to get those natural endorphins flowing. Dancing, hiking, running, stretching…whatever you can do and enjoy. Joy of life.
–Music, music, music. Listen, sing, move, play an instrument. Best medicine ever and instantly fills me with joy.
–Be creative. God has designed us in His image, which means He has designed us to be creative. Art, music, dance, inventions, film, photography, healing, cooking, gardening, design…..the list goes on and on. Even if you can’t be creative for a living, find a few moments in your day to do something that feeds your soul.
–Rest when you need it. I am a big fan of sleep….I get rather giddy every night at bedtime and the thought of resting my tired body on that lovely memory foam. 😉 Sometimes the pressures and troubles of this life are too much for me to have energy to do anything on the above list, and I just need to rest for a while. And that’s ok. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
–Pray and know the Savior of the world. This is the most important thing I have ever found that brings joy, so it has to be first and last on this list. Deep, lasting joy that does not go away based on circumstance. Jesus came to earth for me, died on the cross to pay for all my sins, and came to life again after three days in the tomb. He wants a relationship with me, and is always there to listen and to care and to give me hope. Joy, hope, future, redemption……joie de vivre.
Writing all this down has encouraged my heart this morning, and I pray it helps someone else as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on joyful living in days of stress.
Disclaimer: What follows is me trying my best to be honest about something that is very hard to get my head around. There are no good, perfect answers for any of it, but I just needed to write. Thanks for reading.
Life passes at a dizzying pace. The days, weeks, months, and almost a year now of waiting for COVID19 and its accompanying lockdowns and restrictions to be over. Waiting for life to go back to normal. Waiting not to worry, to eat inside without fear, to get on the airplane without a mask and multiple testing, to go to a concert, to hug people at will.
The past week or two, I have kind of hit some sort of wall. The “I’ve had it with this crap” wall, to put it very bluntly. There needs to be joy, there needs to be life, there needs to be hope.
I am so thankful that Jesus Christ is my Savior, because He gives me a hope and a future that no government, no leader, no disease can take away. I can guarantee you there will be no masks and plenty of hugging in heaven. 🙂
But right now, right here on this earth…..Jesus has left me and you here for a reason. To smile, to laugh, to share joy with others who are losing hope fast. I look around me and I am seeing a loss of hope in many eyes….even my own at times. There needs to be a balance to all this crazy caution and protection….we still need to look for and find and seek joy in this life. To maintain and nurture the human relationships and interactions that actually make us human. I am not against masks and disease protection…I have asthma and have to be careful. But there has to be balance, and my fear has to be countered by my faith.
And this seizing of joy goes way beyond COVID19 and mask-wearing. It extends to every aspect of this life. The sad aspect of all these lockdowns is that we are forgetting how to be joyful, to laugh, to touch, to connect person-to-person.
So, what is the answer to all this? The only thing I have found, other than my faith and praying under my breath almost all day, is CARPE DIEM. “Seize the day.” Live in the immediate moment. Look people straight in the eyes, smile at them with your eyes. Don’t think so much. Don’t try to fix unfixable problems. Just look out the window. Feel the sun on my face. Or the strong wind lift my hair. Or hug my husband or my child or my doggie. Read an amazing book, and not one that makes me nervous or scared. Watch movies/shows that celebrate traditional family values, make me laugh, make me realize that life here is a gift from God, it is good. Do something, anything, that makes you feel creative, makes you feel alive, brings you joy.
Carpe Diem. Seize the day. We cannot get it back. This day, this life. And seriously, if you have faith in God, in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the author of hope….share it. So many people need hope right now.
Stepping off the soapbox now…..thanks for listening, my sweet readers. Love, Lisa
I am thinking about birds this morning. They migrate for two reasons….to escape cold weather and to find food. Both of these sound great to me. 🙂 They are born with an amazing God-given instinct to know where to fly, how to get there, how to protect themselves. They also do not have to worry about COVID19, or taking PCR tests to travel, or quarantining. 🙂
And as we await yet another winter storm of snow and ice here in Virginia, I am wishing to be a bird! 🙂 I think I would soar right down to Anguilla in the Caribbean, and stay until April.
Also, I am praying for any of you who might be out of power and heat right now. Praying for quick restoration of power and protection for all of you.
In the meantime, I will be doing a lot of imaginary time traveling over here. Feel free to join me.
My daughter is taking biology this semester. They discussed the question, “What is life?” I realize that there are valid observational qualifications for life. I don’t negate that. But all I kept thinking over and over again in my mind was, “Life is God. In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
What a comforting thought to be held together, to be created by Almighty God, who has made all things. Beautiful things….oceans, mountains, waterfalls, pine trees laden with snow, hummingbirds, cuddly puppies.
Praise God for life and for being our entire being.