Staying Focus: Having Joy in Spite Of

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I feel like I’ve learned so many little lessons from not only this Joy study itself, but the many different things in my life during this time.  It’s amazing to experience God’s peace and joy, even in the midst of things that would seem negative, things that normally would rob one of joy or happiness or peace.

This week, we’ve been learning how to practice having joy in spite of difficult or less than desirable circumstances.  This journey over the past few months has truly grown me and stretched me, to where I’m not even the same person I was a few months ago.  I’ve heard so many messages now on what God was pressing on my heart – Staying Focus – and so many gifts of wisdom from people in my life on how to respond in better, more Christ-like ways to attacks and accusations.

I don’t retaliate anymore when I’m tempted to.  I don’t try to fight back in ways that only make matters worse.  I don’t give in to feeling ashamed when Satan uses people to bring up my past failures, things I’ve already apologized for and reconciled with them about.  I know God’s used my past failures to help me learn how to respond better in my life, and that I’m fully covered in His grace.  There is no more condemnation for my past failings.  And I know how to spot Satan’s attempts at stealing my joy – they don’t even work anymore – when he tries to condemn me for things I’ve already been forgiven for.  I know I’m covered in God’s grace, and feel no condemnation!  I still have joy 🙂

Now I actually celebrate and am actually a little excited to see insults and slander, not because of it or the pain it does cause me, but because I have the renewed chance to respond the right way this time.  To do things right.  Even last night, I decided to pray for someone that was obviously acting without self-control… again, and trying to cause harm by what she thought was a good plan at retaliation at feeling wronged.  It was exciting for me to know and decide right then at that moment, that I would not retaliate, and that I would pass that test God was giving me to learn how to deal better with sinful people.

I decided not to retaliate with insults or accusations of her past wrongs, or attacks like the last time I failed this test.  I decided I was going to forgive her, again, pray for her, and thank God for what she was doing and saying.  Sometimes we have to forgive people multiple times because they keep allowing Satan to use them.  But my reaction last night, is a far cry from what I would have done just a few months ago.  And that’s amazing!

It’s something to celebrate!  So I’m celebrating this week, for doing something I never would have been able to do with such grace this time last year.  I’m celebrating for the progress and maturity this means for me.  I’m celebrating because in passing this test, I’ll be able to move to the next level with God and be ready for whatever He has for me there.

So be encouraged readers!!  Have joy – joy in spite of.

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The One Thing I Hope My Son Learns From Us As Parents: How to Apologize & How to Forgive

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I’ve been reflecting a lot on the dynamics of healthy relationships, and how you want your kids to grow up – who you want them to be as they watch and learn from you.  We send our children messages whether we’re aware of it or not, messages of adults always being right, never having to admit making a mistake, or maybe even refusing to ever humble themselves enough to make an apology when one is crucially needed.

I think… the absolute worst thing for my son, would be for him to grow into a man who cannot admit when he’s wrong or apologize when he knows he’s offended or hurt someone.  Paired with this, would be the inability for him to truly learn what forgiveness looks like – or to gain an unhealthy victim attitude of, “accept all trespassers back into your life, even if they make no effort to change or meet you half-way in reconciliation.”  The effects of these two important life lessons on my son as he grows up and has his own family, will either make his own family stronger & healthier, or spiral into a darkness of devastation, anger, and destruction of relationships.  I’ve seen both firsthand in my husband’s and my family trees… they are examples we will (and have) used to teach our son what apologizing, forgiveness, and reconciliation truly means.

In our family, in our home, we are working on a family mission statement – part of it includes being people who admit when we’re wrong, and are quick to apologize to one another when we know their feelings have been hurt.  We also are teaching  our son the importance of accepting an apology, and whole-heartedly forgiving someone.

I truly don’t undstand how people can go on living life without living out these basic principles.  The only way to live in God’s beauty of joy and happiness (& definitely peace of mind), is to be this kind of person.