By: Christie Myers
Sometimes in life, the burdens feel too big. Recently, I battled a bit of anxiety and gloom, feeling overwhelmed by the tasks and bruises and bumps of life—the traffic tickets, the misunderstandings, the cultural craziness, the thorn of COVID, the fires, the wars, the losses. It all felt heavy, like walking through a thick haze.
But those shadowy days passed, and my heart got well again.
Like recovering from a head cold, after some intentional rest, I felt like I could breathe. I rested from social media. I rested from my to-do list, and I rested from my expectations of myself.
Slowly, my heart filled with hope again and I felt my desire come back. You know that feeling. The desire to get out of bed early, go on a favorite walk, listen to a favorite podcast, have a productive day at work, eat a favorite lunch—all the little things that bring us anticipation and enjoyment.
So, what makes the difference between these two types of days—the shadow days and the joyful days? Are highs and lows simply the ebb and flow of life, or can we choose joy and cultivate peace continually? Maybe the answer is both: something we choose, and something we cannot always control. There are so many paradoxes in life, and this, to me, is one.
We need to take action to have the lives we want, but there are significant aspects of life that are not in our control—our childhoods, our parent’s marital statuses, whether or not we have acne in junior high, traffic jams, and to a large extent, other people. Sometimes even our own emotions can be out of our control.
When we try to control the things we are not meant to control, it takes a toll. We spend ourselves to no avail. So, what do we do, practically speaking, to find peace and joy in this beautiful, upside-down world where foibles and troubles are ever-present? Lately, I’ve been employing a two-pronged approach. Try it and see what it does for you.
The first necessity is to get quiet and breathe. Be still, and open your heart. Talk to Jesus. Tell Him all the things that are worrying you or bumming you out. Be stark, naked honest. No airs.
And listen for His whispers.
There’s no wrong way to do it
There’s no bad time to start
It don’t have to sound pretty
Just tell Him what’s on your heart
‘Cause it’s not a religion
‘Cause it’s more like a friendship
Just start talking to Jesus
—Talking To Jesus, Elevation Worship & Maverick City
Talking to Jesus unburdens us. He frees us of the insecurity, the grouchy neighbor, the callback we didn’t get from a friend, and even the weight of our own mistakes. He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus revives us in our weariness, sets our hearts at rest, gives us wisdom to do what brings joy (and healing, and health) to our bones, and is our fierce defender and advocate.
This brings us to the the next necessity: choose. When you hear His whispers, choose to act. Do the things that cultivate a deep sense of inner well-being. Be good to your body. Choose the thoughts that are helpful instead of hurtful. Be intentionally grateful, especially when you don’t feel like it.
Wherever this post finds you today, my benediction for us all is the Serenity prayer by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,
living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;
taking this world as it is and not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will…