Center Of Joy (I’ll Be Open) [Part 1]

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This is a story that is based on a journey of my past…

Tonight, I was in deep thought and figured that, even though it’s in the past; it can help someone today, with a little transparency…

I remember being in a season where I was longing to enjoy my life, above all else… I remember realizing that I had never really ENJOYED my life like I thought I did. I mean; I had moments where I enjoyed some aspects of it, but as a whole – I did not. If anything, there were more things that I ended up eventually regretting than enjoying.

But just the same as I felt when I wrote Dream On Dreamer, I just wanted to LIVE before I DIE. I know they say you gott’a die before you can live, but I felt like all I was doing was giving up more than I was gaining… I felt like I was constantly dying, losing and waiting to be renewed, walk in restoration or for something else great, you know?

I just wanted to be fulfilled and enjoy true satisfaction in so many areas of my life.

But knowing that I hadn’t really enjoyed my life (at that time), I was really going through it emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Like, I was really depressed… I fought with depression and had my share of suicidal thoughts like, “Why am I here?”

I had even felt the urge to act on what I felt (suicidal). I was so miserable…

Of course, nobody knew… because I didn’t really talk to people about that stuff. I was a lot more introverted than I am now. I’m still growing out of it, little by little. But anyway; I just told people the stuff I wanted them to know… surface stuff. Not the deep dark stuff. But as close as I was to some people, I now wonder to myself, “Why didn’t I talk to him/her about what I was really going through?”

It was that fear of being raw, honest and vulnerable… I didn’t want to be open to being judged or not taken serious… So, I kept it all to myself.

But since then, I’ve gotten better. I feel a WHOLE lot better.

Still, you can pray for me. It’s always needed and appreciated.

I knew that the main reason I felt like I was not really enjoying my life was because I wasn’t doing what I truly wanted to do with my life. I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything or doing anything with my life that really mattered or made a difference.

So I said, “forget it” and started doing my own thing.

I was making decisions without taking to God about them. I was emotionally led… However I was feeling, I did something about that feeling, without a care in the world. I was just doing ‘me’.

While I was experiencing that lack of joy, though; I was feeling like I would always be my only support when it comes to reaching my goals and making my dreams a reality. I felt like I would always be the only person who would understand why I do what I do, why I have the desires that I have and understand why I was not feeling fulfilled.

I felt alone.

Sometimes, I still feel like that no one will ever understand why certain things in my life mean as much as they do to me… Maybe only a handful of people will. I mean, I know that there are people who, by the grace of God, are assigned to my life and will understand where I’m coming from if I open up to them and tell them what’s really on my heart instead of hiding some things and only putting a portion of it on the table. That’s just something I have to work on.

I know I have people who will be more than happy to invest in me if I open up completely about my true desires. I know I have support, I just don’t tap into it like I should or know I can. It’s just that fear of not knowing if anyone will fully understand why I long to reach the goals I have set for myself or why these things actually matter. The fear of explaining and not being understood or looked at like I’m crazy.

I honestly didn’t mean to put all of my focus on just my dreams and goals, but I was in a place in my life that if I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do – I shouldn’t even be alive. That’s how I was thinking. Like, if I wasn’t doing what I love to do, I had no reason to do anything else. I didn’t love doing the other things. I was just doing them because I felt like it’s all I could do or I couldn’t do any better.

Two of my top passions are for youth and writing. If you combined those two and told me I could have that, full time – I would want anything more. When I’m doing what I love to do, when I see my imagination/dreams coming to life – I feel a lot better. I’m no longer longing for anything else. I’m satisfied. I mean, who wouldn’t be satisfied with that?

My thing was/is, I don’t do well with interference. I don’t like when someone or something comes up that somehow comes between me and what I’m pursuing. I don’t really know how to handle that, but I’m praying for grace.

Before I was praying for grace, I was shutting down and shutting the whole world out because I wasn’t getting what I wanted to get out of life.

But here’s where I have had a change of heart and mind. I’ve had to repent for the way I was thinking and doing things.

I remember reading Psalm 51 one day – and a verse that has always had my attention, struck me in a way that it never had before: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12 (ESV)

As far as repentance goes, that entire passage of scripture ALWAYS humbled me. But on the specific day that I read it, that verse hit me in a way that it never had before. As I read it, I wanted to cry… because I realized that I was so ungrateful for everything God had already done for me. I realized that I had taken so many things for granted. I was forsaking everything God had already started in my life, all for the sake of dreaming and feeling a little joy, somehow, someway… I had overlooked so much, due to my longing to be fulfilled. I was looking for joy in all the wrong places. And the little joy that I would find, it never lasted.

When I used to think about enjoying my life, all I thought about was what I could get out of this life… I was selfish. Now, if I feel myself about to fall off into that same pattern, I think about how the next person might feel if they’re on the receiving end of what I’m doing. So, today, I’m trying my best to keep from making it all about me. And I know it’s not all about me… But, no lie, sometimes I still manage to forget the main reason why I need to be doing anything at all; THE GLORY OF GOD.

Making it all about me; the beginning of the fall.

I didn’t stop to think about what God was doing/wanted to do with/through all the interference and halts to some of the things I’ve been longing to do/accomplish. Who I am and what I do; it wouldn’t even be possible if it wasn’t for God making me this way in the first place.

And realizing that, I had to believe that He wouldn’t have allowed me to get to that place of longing, just to leave me hanging there. On the other side of my longing there’s fulfillment and satisfaction and joy. On the other side of what I was going through, there’s a breath of fresh air and life like I’ve never imagined. He was only preparing me.

So now I’ve taken the center focus off of me, what I want to do and put my focus on what Christ has already done and what He still wants to do. And while I’m waiting for Him to satisfy me, still (in some areas), I’ll stay prayerful about God helping me to change my thoughts and be humble about the situation.

When I think about Psalm 51:12, I think about the fact that Christ died for me, saved me from hell and has prepared a life of abundance for me. He’s paved a way for me. He went down a hard road to do it all too. So what should I expect? I should expect trials, errors, interference, etc. Jesus faced it all before He fulfilled what He accomplished what He came to do on the cross.

It makes me think like, “I may not be doing everything I want to do right now (there’s a reason I’m not doing it all right now), but I thank God that I’m not who/where I used to be or could be, because of what He’s done for me. It’s only by His grace that I’m still here and even have a chance to live, move and have my being.

HE’S THE JOY OF MY SALVATION…

I constantly think of this passage now: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)

I have to count it all joy that I get to go through what I go through because it’s only a season of preparation and I know it’s not in vain. When it’s all said and done, there’s glory on the other side. So I take all of my worries, doubts, fears and anxious thoughts, and I give them to the Father.

To be continued…

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