I was just reading my bio on my own page and it said that “Donna looks for joy in the misfit places of life.” Can I be open and honest with you guys right now? I have been stuck in a misfit place for about 4 months and I have not been searching for much joy. Life has been a bit overwhelming and full of trouble, if you will. But with God…..
Let me fill you in….if you don’t want to hear my sordid stories then you may want to excuse yourself at this time…don’t worry, I will not hold it against you!
Four months ago, after being in ministry for over seventeen years, my husband stepped down. The back story of Justin’s departure left me a bit bitter, angry, and sad. I have mourned over
abruptly leaving my church family of over seven years, cried over both my calling and my husband’s calling, and generally been in a negative place. Hurt and feeling all alone, I withdrew. I withdrew from family, from friends and from life in general. Nobody likes change and I am at the top of the nobody list. My identity was slowing slipping away and I needed direction. I knew in my heart that God had it all under control but I was having a hard time convincing myself of it this time around. Then plumbing issues, medical issues, flat tires and car accidents arose…further adding to this misfit, ever changing life that I was living. “I’m done!” I declared. My joy was slipping away.
But slowly, God began to bring bits and pieces of joy back into my life. The wide grins on the faces of my kids after a week of VBS at the church we are now attending. A jar offered by a friend who has stuck by my side over the last 4 months and never given up on me. A text just to let me know that I was being prayed for and that I was loved. A visit from my husband with Starbucks in hand. And just this week a surprise cake to celebrate a new milestone in our lives. God was reminding me about joy and then he gently opened my eyes to see that I had it all in the wrong order. That my misfit life was the life He had given me. I was just doing it wrong. I was no longer putting Jesus first. My relationship with God had become a misfit place. But with God……
It was coming up quickly on my turn to teach “pop-up” Bible study for the month of July. I told Jodie that I would teach it and that we would focus on what the Bible says about trouble. I didn’t want to focus on what God was promising or bringing me to through trouble, I just wanted to focus on the fact that we all have trouble and by we I meant me…I was having lots and lots of trouble. But of course in preparing to teach, God brought to light many things that I had to include, or the study would no longer be biblical. God knew that I would not and could not possibly leave out the promises that He brings during times of trouble. That night sitting in my friend’s living room, I was reminded of what joy really meant…Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between.
Even when your life is flipped upside down, God wants you to find joy.
Even when you are hurt and afraid, God wants you to find joy.
And even when you feel like a misfit, like nothing is working quite right, He wants you to remember that you still have a function, a purpose, and a place…and He wants you to find joy.
So how do you find joy? Well you find Jesus.
Hebrews 13:8 says this “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” See God has been right there the whole time, I was just too…well too pre-occupied with my trouble to see Him.
And once you find Jesus, you focus on sharing Him with others.
Psalm 96: 3 “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among the peoples.” People are always watching…to see how you act and re-act as a follower of Christ. God does not promise life without trouble, but He does promise that He will be there with you the entire way. John 16:33
And then, you can work on yourself.
In all honesty, once you focus on Jesus and then you put your mind on others….You find joy in your misfit life because suddenly it is not as bad as you once thought. Proverbs 23:7 says: “For as he thinks in his heart, so he is.”
Last night, I joined a wonderful group of people at one of the local nursing homes to bring a little joy through music. Oh, how it did my heart good. We closed the night with the praise chorus “I love you, Lord.”
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you, oh my soul rejoice
Take joy my King
In what You hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.
A simple verse, crying out to God to find joy in how we lift our misfit mess to Him.
See…my misfit life, my days of trouble are no surprise to Him. All He wants is for us…for me… to find joy in it.
There is joy in the journey.
There is trust in the trouble.
And there is a God, in this misfit life that loves you and me very much!