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 to the unknown. 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. As I heard the screams I remembered how much I hated swings. What was I getting myself into? I’ve never liked the pressure in my head as a swing pulls you back or the feeling in my belly as it releases you forward. This was going to be a swing on steroids.
But I didn’t want to disappoint him so I smiled as we 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 insecurity or the fear that are hidden behind the smile.
I trembled as I took my seat and he strapped us in. And as we started that first vertical drop from 150 feet in the air my brave face fell off. I was exposed. 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 wild 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. 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 and the wind blowing in his face on a speeding coaster. He enjoys every bit of it – the speed, the unexpected drops, the 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 (your life experiences, your belief system) and what is inside of you, you may have a very different experience and perception 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 avoid or control life’s free falls.
When your go-to reaction to uncertainty is negative you will live a fearful life. The good news today is that you can prepare for life’s free falls. 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 tube of toothpaste tonight, what do you expect will come out of that tube. What would you think if you squeezed your toothpaste onto your toothbrush and peanut butter came out? It wouldn’t make sense and 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.
Unguarded thoughts will defeat us and leave us shaken and defenseless. That’s why I had to change my thoughts. I have to continually check myself and replace the lies that creep in and create 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 a 5-day daily devotional. Read each section one day at a time. Let the truth of God’s word penetrate and heal the hurting places that no one else sees. And, expect that the healer will begin to heal you.
I wrote iChooseJOY because while joy was once a foreign concept to me it is now how I live my life – JOYFUL and I want the same for you.
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. Not because we have it all together but because the God who created the universe and designed me with a purpose and a plan in mind does. And, He is trustworthy.
Join me. Change your mind. Change your life.
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Choosing JOY with you,