Monday, April 27, 2009

Sparks of Joy

Much on my mind about joy lately or rather the lack of it. I am beginning to see more and more that joy isn't about being happy all the time, it's about the habit of gratefulness. To recall to mind what has already been done for me as a sinner (the cross), the provision God has made for us (homes, cars, food, jobs) and the daily mercy abundantly overflowing for me (grace upon grace). What I most need has already occurred, so satisfaction and contentment are very much within my reach. It is a discipline to place myself before this mercy and grace while the transformation part is God's work. I hope to form a habit of this more each day.

I am also growing in what sparks joy in my daily life. Doing what I do for Him, not for me, my kids or even my husband. I am called to care for them and love them but I am first called to serve and love Him. The fruit of that is the care of my family. I have been doing this backwards for most of my Christian life. I don't think I was consciously earning favor through my service to my family but anger at myself when I would fall short is a huge indicator that I was working to earn something. I wanted to get it right not for God's glory but so I would be okay with myself. Truly, I am realizing more clearly that most things I do are tainted with the desire of what I want out of it.

When things are out of my control often my joy goes with it. Why? I have been asking myself this very question. We have been having some struggles with a particular child's behavior which I automatically saw as failure on my part. I battled with lack of joy the whole time. We have since discovered he has struggles that have nothing to do with our parenting. What I began to see through this, was that my joy was based on performance, mine and my child's. This is a form of trying to earn my salvation. A joy stealer for sure.

I have also had my eyes opened to my motivation to have an orderly and efficient home. I like it when things run well. I find great satisfaction in order. When things didn't go smoothly I got bent out of shape. Why? Because my joy and satisfaction isn't in Him who called me to serve and care for my family but in the feeling I get from doing a job well. I am doomed before I get started because I can't always do things well. I was doing the right things for the wrong reason. It looked all good on the outside but I have come to see, by grace, that my motivation for being on the ball wasn't about giving glory to God or even serving my family.....but my own self satisfaction. Why else would I get so frustrated with myself or others when it didn't work out.

I am beginning to see and experience that true joy is always based in God's glory first. All the things I do to serve my children, husband, church are the fruits of God being first in my life. When there is a lack of joy I can promise you it's because I am putting the wrong thing first.


The VW's said...

Like you said in your comment to me...WOW! It's like we are living parallel lives, having very similiar feelings and trying our hardest to trust in God and serve Him while caring for our family! Your thoughts and words have encouraged me today! I will think of them as I go through my responsibilities as a mother! Thank you! Hope you enjoy your day!

Cara said...

A very hearty and sober "amen" to that, Sandi. On days when I am enthralled and compelled by God's glory, my home and heart are markedly different from those days when I am working toward something else. (My own ease or glory, typically.)

By the way, have you read John Piper's Future Grace? Parts of this post made me think it might encourage you.

Thanks for your prayers for Aylenne! Last I heard, she was starting to get the hang of nursing. A good sign!

JesLes said...

Yup, that pretty much sums up how I have been feeling of late. Did you read A Holy Experience post today (April29th). She echos similar sentiments in a different light. Always thought provoking.

Sandi said...

I haven't read Furture Grace but you've peeked my interest.

I will definately take a look at Ann's post. Thanks for stopping by:o)

momma's heart said...

Similar self-preachings about joy have been hashed out on my own blog lately. And I came to the same conclusion of sorts. I wanted an orderly house so that others would approve of my "performance" as a mother. I had the feeling that I could never be good at mothering if I couldn't keep a neat, orderly house, whilst caring for and schooling my four kids. A post on Joy's blog helped me see that the neat house was not an end in itself--just a trellis to help with the nervous feeling I get from clutter--so that I can feel joyful.

Don't know if that makes sense. Anyway it is amazing the very similar struggles stay-at-home moms have.

I'm really enjoying your blog!