I was once afraid of the unknown, afraid of the idea of eternity in both heaven and hell, afraid of the growing evil in this world, afraid of the uncertain days ahead. I could not experience joy when my thoughts were dominated by fear. Fear was my go-to response and it held me prisoner in my mind.
On our second date, my husband, Jakub, quickly figured out what I was made of as he witnessed my go-to response. He took me to an amusement park and convinced me to ride a roller coaster with him.
I didn’t know what to expect so I put on a brave face and got on a long line with him. It didn’t take very long for me to get myself all worked up. I pretended to be okay because I didn’t want him to know my truth–I was a big ol’ chicken and I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect but I heard the screams and I knew how much I hated swings. I hated the feeling in my belly as swings release you forward or the pressure in my head as the swing pulls you back. This was going to be a swing on steroids.
But I didn’t want to disappoint him so I inched along that line waiting our turn. Sometimes we do that. We put on masks to hide what we’re really feeling. We pretend to be okay so that the people around us never find out what’s really going on inside. We don’t want anyone to see the insecurities and fears that lie behind the smile or just beneath the surface.
As we started that first vertical drop from 150 feet in the air my brave face fell off. There was only one way I could endure this so I immediately assumed the position–I closed my eyes, held my breath and waited for it to be over. For almost three minutes I could not breathe as I almost cracked his ribs holding on for dear life while the coaster tossed us around hard turns and unexpected drops. 🙈
When we got off that roller coaster Jakub was laughing and high-fiving his brother. A thrill-seeker by nature, he had had the time of his life. While inches away I was trembling and rendered nearly speechless. That would be my first and last roller coaster ride.
How is it possible for two people to have the exact same experience and have very different reactions?
I need slow and steady. I rely on risk assessments. My heart was filled with fear and insecurity. In the face of uncertainty, I could only respond with what I knew–fear. It was my go-to response in the face of the unknown.
My husband, on the other hand was a pro at this, he loves the rush of wind in his face on a speeding coaster or the sound of speed in a professional race car. He enjoys roller coasters. Every bit of it – the unexpected drops and hard turns. He was confident that he would be okay even if he didn’t know exactly what was ahead.
Our lives can sometimes feel like an out of control roller coaster ride. And depending on what you are made of or, what is inside of you, you may have a very different experience than the person sitting right next to you.
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)
The thoughts we entertain will run our lives. Those go-to thoughts determine our responses to life’s experiences. When you live in a constant state of fear then you are going to respond to the brewing storms and the unexpected roller coasters in fear.
What is in you will make its way out of you just like toothpaste makes its way out of your tube of toothpaste when you squeeze it in the morning.
When you find yourself on life’s roller coasters and you are facing a 150-foot vertical drop, how do you respond?
We CAN avoid the amusement park roller coasters but in our everyday lives we can’t control life’s free falls. Unguarded thoughts will defeat us and leave us shaken and defenseless.
When your go-to reaction to uncertainty is negative and manifests itself in fear, anger, insecurity, frustration, etc., you can choose to change it. You and I can choose joy and confidence. It requires changing our thoughts.
Change your mind.
Let me paint a quick picture for you. When you squeeze your toothpaste tonight, you expect toothpaste to come out of that tube. What would you think if you squeezed your toothpaste onto your toothbrush and peanut butter came out? You would wonder how that got in there.
When unexpected things happen and life squeezes us we should expect whatever we put in us to come out. Therein lies the choice. When our thoughts are negative our responses will likely be negative. If our thoughts are positive then our responses will be positive.
I have since changed my thoughts. I have replaced the lies that created fear with the truth about joy.
Joy is the antidote for fear.
In changing my thoughts I have changed life. Joy runs deeper than my fears. Joy is stronger than my insecurities. Joy allows me to stand strong when my circumstances try to crush me.
On life’s roller coasters I no longer hold my breath and wish for the best. Instead, I walk in the confidence that comes with JOY and the good news is, you can too.
Joy is something we have to be intentional about; choosing to be JOYFUL in the face of adversity or grief is a choice. Choosing joy doesn’t mean I am always happy but choosing joy allows me to remain confident. Joy is the result of knowing where and in whom my trust remains.
iChooseJOY is a word study and devotional.
I wrote iChooseJOY because while joy was once a foreign concept to me it is now how I live my life – JOYFUL.
iChooseJOY will give you some basic truths about joy that will help you begin to change your mind. As you spend time with those new thoughts I pray your heart will find strength you never imagined possible. Over time, a few changes can change your life.
We can live a joyful life in all seasons and all circumstances.
Join me. Change your mind. Change your life.
CHOOSE JOY. Enter your email address and hit the subscribe button to receive your free copy of this word study and in a couple of weeks you will receive a few other goodies, including my top five strategies for choosing joy.
Learning and sharing as I journey to KNOW Him,