Tag Archives: Joy

Weekly Favorite Links (July 16-August 5, 2015)

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What makes you happy?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, both directly by others and one that I have been mulling over on my quiet drives to and from work. I guess part of it is because I had to take a workshop session related to happiness for work purposes and it was a really interesting experience. The workshop began with pop songs playing in the background (which did make us feel pretty pumped up) and after that, everyone had to go around sharing what was one thing that made them happy. I honestly didn’t think much of the question at first, so the first thing that came to my mind was GOOD FOOD ’cause I was hungry and…. I love food a lot. Y’all should already know that though.

As the session progressed, I realized that what seemed like an initial harmless, superficial question really was one of life’s most significant question marks that every individual must answer for themselves. Because we all strive to be happy; we may all differ in how we believe and see where happiness comes from.

If there was one thing that was apparent from that meeting, it was the realization that the world believes you are in charge of your happiness and there are concrete steps and goals to achieve it. By the end of the workshop, there was probably about ten suggested strategies that were offered to all of us to achieve the happiness we were looking for. We were also asked to publicly share and offer examples of ways that we were trying to achieve such happiness. For example, someone would be asked to share to the rest of the group how they were kind to someone else or one thing they’ve learned recently in order to improve their weaknesses. I was called on to share a recent event that inspired me and empowered me. Others were asked to talk about what they loved about themselves and areas where they had to overcome certain challenges. We were also given a worksheet to complete and take home and before we left the meeting, we all had to write down two commitments we were going to work towards.

On the one hand, I appreciated the workshop. There were a lot of good points made and some great practical ways for me to work on my weaknesses and further areas that I can continue to grow in. The personal sharing from everyone was also pretty relatable and we were able to bond better as a team. Furthermore, I felt more motivated to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. And yes, making a commitment to something, striving towards goals, and successfully achieving them does bring about the feeling of happiness. But only to a certain degree. That feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration you get from checking off something from a bucket list– it’s all temporary. So while I enjoyed the workshop, on the other hand, I also left that meeting a bit dissatisfied and not fully convinced at everything that was addressed. I think I was taken aback because for the first time in a long while, I was told that Self can make happiness happen. As if the greatest purpose in this life is to be happy with myself and come to terms with how great of a person I am (as if I need more reasons to be prideful of who I am).

However, I know that in order to find true happiness and lasting joy, everything that was suggested at that workshop were only fragments of what I know to be true. I think the workshop only addressed and scratched the surface level of bigger issues. I felt like the people leading the session and even the group discussions were trying to persuade me that a band-aid would fix areas that might need open heart surgery. There comes a point where we can try to do everything in our power to get what we want and it will be in vain since we’re limited as human beings. The biggest hole in that team bonding activity was that contentment apart from Christ is impossible because only in Christ alone will we find our everlasting happiness. After all, God’s creations were never meant to replace him as our Creator.

Self cannot be elevated nor is the individual Self reliable enough to deliver. I think if anything, Self only ends up disappointing more than impressing because we’re all fallen sinners. Honestly, I don’t even know what will happen to me in the next minute, much less a lifetime, so how can I guarantee my own happiness? I can’t. Instead, I believe and trust that true happiness is found when I surrender my life to Jesus, when my sinful desires are cast away and when my mind is renewed to be more like his. In Christ alone, my soul will be satisfied. Continue reading

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Called To Repentance

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and something that I’m continuing to experience in my spiritual walk, is that God uses my idols to break me. It takes a good trial or two for me to recognize what I place my hope in and what my heart worships instead of God. To borrow some words from a friend’s recent blog post, Trials will devastate your idols. While trials are oftentimes painful (or else they wouldn’t be categorized as one), it’s usually a good wake-up call for me to see areas that I need further growth in.

Lately, I’ve realized that I really idolize my relationships with others. It dawned on me that I love my friends more than I love God. I care more about people and I desire a deeper connection with them than I do with my Savior. My schedule revolves around these relationships and I would go as far as sacrificing alone time with God so that I could spend time with people. I could go days without reading God’s Word but I can’t go a few hours without checking out my Instagram feed because I want to be updated and to “stay connected.” Their presence and their words sometimes mean more to me than Scripture. Why go to God alone in prayer when a text message to a friend is faster? Why seek comfort and rest in Christ when I could call up someone and they could encourage me?

The only major problem is that there is no substitute for God because only God can satisfy my soul. My security wasn’t being rooted in my identity as a beloved, adopted daughter of the mighty creator of this universe. Instead, I found my affirmation and purpose through my earthly relationships. I lived for them — and I think I still do. Continue reading

Weekly Favorite Links (July 2-8, 2015)

MacArthur

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If there is one thing that always surprises and never ceases to leave me utterly speechless and in streams of tears, it is grace.

I have been the recipient of so much undeserved grace lately.

I am amazed at how loved I am by those around me. I suppose I’ve always had this internal struggle that I needed to earn that love and so throughout my life, I sought to please. But grace is something that I cannot earn, which makes it so much more precious when it’s given. God has placed people in my life that have seen me at my worst and ugliest moments. Instead of judging me and telling me that I’m a disappointment or that I should’ve known better than to fall into certain sins, their eyes have only grown more tender and compassionate when all is laid bare.

Most importantly, they have readily forgiven me when oftentimes I struggled to forgive myself. When I am feeling overwhelmed with shame and guilt, they have patiently pointed me to Scripture to help me train my thoughts to find comfort in what is true. Not only have they embraced me in spite of my failures, they have firmly reminded me of the grace that is found at the foot of the cross. By no means do they condone my mistakes. But they have demonstrated what it means to love in hard times and to bear one another’s burdens because we all fall short. Instead of allowing me to run away from my trials, these brothers and sisters of mine have cheered for me to press on and to finish well.

I am so thankful for these individuals.

But you know what’s even crazier? These dear friends of mine are testaments of God’s faithfulness and work in their lives. More than their love for me is the mysterious love that my Savior and Lord displayed on the cross. In order so that I could be freed from the bondage of sin, He who knew no sin became sin in my place and bore my weaknesses. In this life, I will never be able to understand why Christ would die for someone like me. I will never be worthy of God’s love, of His Son’s sacrificial death on my behalf. However, if it was not for the grace of God, if Christ did not bear my guilt and shame, I would still be in chains today.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 

Romans 8:1-11

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Weekly Favorite Links (April 2-8, 2015)

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My week started out a bit rough and when that happens, I like to turn to music to calm my soul. Although I enjoy catchy, upbeat tunes on the radio, I prefer listening to hymns or worship songs to help me get through whatever that’s troubling me. My current go-to pick-me-up songs are Man of Sorrows, Before the Throne, and Cornerstone.

I love the solid lyrics that offer me comfort, hope, and strength. Singing aloud, and often belting it out when I think no one’s around, helps me repeat truth to myself when my mind’s filled with negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes these songs serve as my heart’s cry out to God. There are times when I don’t know how to articulate everything that I’m going through, so when I’m overcome with discouragement, I sing. I sing because it enables me to focus and direct whatever thoughts and emotions that I’m feeling to God’s character — his sacrificial love, perfect wisdom, unfathomable faithfulness, and overflowing grace.

When I sing over and over again of who God is and what he’s done for me, the overpowering feeling of despair I may have felt before diminishes. The circumstances that troubles me fade in comparison to knowing that I’m forgiven and loved by the One who holds the past, present, and future in his hands. And it’s an awesome and mind-blowing truth to digest. There is power and healing in music, and I’m thankful that it’s through song that my spirit can be lifted up from the darkest valleys.

Below is a cover of Hillsong’s Man of Sorrows, which is part of a fun collaboration that I did with my friend Aaron aka musicgoon. (So yes, now you can put a voice to my face. Heh.) I hope that it will bless you as the song has blessed me.

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