As I shared some recent head and heart trash I have with a friend, I garnered a response I was quite surprised by. He said:
You always seem like you have it together…you seem like everything is good even when it’s rough.
Now, I definitely do my best to “keep my head up” and “count it all joy”, but I don’t think I try to fake it (well, not most days). But his response made me realize that even though I thought I was a pretty transparent person (obviously, I’m selective with that), I am not doing a good enough job in sharing what’s really going on with my close friends. I don’t want to be a faker. I want to live an authentic life and I want others to see me for who I am (the good and the bad).
It’s been an interesting season of life for me, probably dating back to October of last year when a coworker took her own life. While I have had some difficult things happen in my 39 years, that one hit me pretty hard. It broke my heart and caused me to question things about God. Since that time, there have been some challenges within my extended family that won’t go away, challenges at work, and the ongoing fight to live the life God called me to instead of the life God called me from. If I’m honest, the pattern has been much like a rollercoaster and the dips feel longer than the peaks (don’t they always). That reminder of the fragility of life and my own confusion with those types of tragedies was again triggered when the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, took his own life last week. While I did not know him personally, nor did I follow his every move over the last 17 years, I did seem to have emotional ties to him and the band in ways I didn’t realize until he died. It’s produced thoughts and feelings that I don’t want or like. I trust God is at work and I see (some) it, I just don’t love it.
As I take a step back, I am able to count many blessings:
- A loving wife and best friend who means the world to me.
- Two young girls who treat me like a king (most days) and make me so proud.
- Many friends who love me unconditionally.
- A God who died so I could truly live.
But there are days that even a small heartache can blind me to the blessings. They rob me of my joy. And I start to wonder, how will I get it back?
Thankfully, I am reminded of a God who loves me and wants me to be full of joy. John 15 says it this way (emphasis mine):
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11
I know deep down that while God has given me every opportunity to experience abundant joy, I have to fight for it. It won’t just happen.
I promise that you will continue to see me post felfies (family selfies) on social media and share encouraging words from what I read, but know that I I’m not doing to fake it. Instead, please know that I am doing it to fight for the joy often buried deep inside my soul.
*if you struggle finding your own joy and don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, please reach out to me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.