How to Find Joy in the Small Successes
Have you ever gone through times in your life where you feel like you have been left with nothing? Where as soon as you pick yourself up from getting knocked down you slip and hit the ground even harder than before? For the first time in a long time you actually feel completely hopeless. You can’t win. Well, I’m just going to be honest, this is me right now.
This year has been an absolute roller coaster. I could go into detail about how I got to the place that I am in now, but that story is for another day. Needless to say, I’m hurting. I am angry. I am sad. It has just been a rough season.
Today in particular I hit a breaking point. I was blindsided with news that added to a giant pile of baggage that I had finally started sifting through. This left me to drive around for an hour crying out to God for a miracle. I started demanding for my life to change. I needed to know that I was going to get through this. I had to have the assurance that I was eventually going to win. I needed some form of physical sign. I had to see a miracle.
I am not writing this to tell you about some giant spiritual spectacle that I experienced or anything like that; however, a person much wiser than me recently told me that miracles aren’t always found in huge dramatic events. Sometimes we have to appreciate the little miracles in our lives that might normally be overlooked.
So here I am, make-up EVERYWHERE. Tears continuously streaming. I needed something to soothe my soul. So I did what everyone else would…I went to Starbucks. I ordered my usual mocha Frappuccino hoping that the chocolate would fill the emptiness in my heart from my awful day. My day started to turn when I met my barista, Summer, at the window. This might have just been because I was feeling so sad, but she was seemingly one of the happiest people I have ever met. Her energy was infectious, and as emotional as I was feeling, I couldn’t help but smile as she did her job.
The best part of my short interaction with this totally awesome Starbucks barista was the fact that she actually noticed me. Maybe it was because I looked like a total hot mess, but her eyes showed kind empathy that I had been craving for all day. She had no idea what was going on in my life, but she cared. That meant the world to me. She handed me my drink and said, “This one is on me. Have a great day!”.
Now, I’m not saying that getting a free drink from Starbucks healed my bad day, but it gave me the chance to stop and think about the following things:
- It is okay to be angry, sad, frustrated…etc.
As a Christian woman, I tend to think that I am supposed to always be happy and have a smile. Jesus loves me, therefore, I should count all sadness “as joy”. But, I have come to realize lately that sometimes we just need to be emotional. We have a Lord that meets us where we are. He doesn’t expect us to always be positive. He wants us to come to him in good and bad times. He loves us enough to wipe the tears from our eyes and give us glimpses of his grace in our daily lives.This verse is a great example of how powerful and sufficient our Lord is. Even in our weaknesses, he makes us strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that It should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ might rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Focus on what you can control.
Whenever I go through rough patches, I tend to focus on what I could have or should have done differently. I get so caught up in my past that I fail to focus on what I can do to improve my present and future. If you can’t control something, throw it out of your mind. There is nothing you can do about it so why spend so much time worrying about it. If there is nothing you can do to fix your situation, then fervently pray about it. Even though we can’t always change our circumstances, the Lord can.
- The LORD is not cruel; he sees the other side of the hard season that you are in.
I passionately believe that the God I serve is not unnecessarily cruel or mean. He has a detailed and extremely important plan for each and every one of us. Yes, we still have to get through the hard stuff, but he doesn’t put us through the moments senselessly or as punishment. It has a purpose. I know without a doubt that this time in my life is going to be used in some way down the line. God sees us years and years down the road. He knows why we are going through what we are. We are blessed enough to have a God that lets us come to him and rest in his arms when we are down—even though he sees us on the other side. That is such a faith builder for me. It gives me (another) reason to trust in him. What an incredible God we serve.
I think a perfect example of this is Matthew 26:38-39 when Jesus prays in Gethsemane before he is going to be taken and crucified. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus still had to endure a senseless sacrificial death, but what an amazing thing it is that our Lord had someone to cry out to in his time of pain. Jesus did not know what was going to happen after his death. He cried to let the cup pass from him because he didn’t want to endure the pain that was ahead of him. God held his son through such a hard season and raised him from the dead! Because of this, Jesus loves us the way his father loves him.
We don’t get to see the other side of the hard times that we have to go through, but our God does. Always. He will never let go of us. He doesn’t forget about us. The hard times are just a part of his plan, that create for a pretty awesome story when we come out of it. And the best part is, it will be our personal testimony to tell. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get through this season and shout out how the indescribable God I serve used it to mold me into the woman of God he wants be to be. But until then, I am going to keep fighting. Keep praying. And keep writing.