Full of Joy?

Do you struggle with your attitude as a busy mom? I know I sure do.

I really do love my life. I always dreamed of being a mom. And if anyone asked if I was happy, I would tell them that I am very happy with my life.

And yet, when I get caught up in the to-do lists and the chaos of multitasking, my smile quickly turns to a frown. And when I get caught up in the worries of life, the stress of keeping track of it all, and the heavy mental load that I am burdened with, my voice quickly changes. It starts to sound more like a drill sergeant barking out orders.

  • “Grab your backpack!”
  • “Put on your shoes.”
  • “Hurry up! You’re going to be late for school!”
  • “PLEASE, put on your shoes.”
  • “Did you remember to brush your teeth?”
  • “PUT ON YOUR SHOES NOW!!!”

And then I read Jesus’s words, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matt. 11:30 NLT)

So why do I feel like everything is weighing on my shoulders? Why does my burden seem so heavy? Why do I constantly feel like I am struggling to stay on top of it all?

The verse above it gives me a clue. Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Did you see that he says, “Let me teach you?”

It is not something that will come automatically. It is not going to be my default reaction. My default reaction is to buck up and get ‘er done. My default move is to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and power through. But Jesus knows that handling life that way will only weigh me down and burn me out.

Then as I read through Philippians 4:4-9 the other day I noticed three things that I wrote down in my bible on the side of the passage.

Attitude-Prayer-Thoughts.

And as I read through the passage Jesus began to teach me. The first portion of these verses addresses our attitudes. It says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”  I read that and sighed. I already know that I should be full of joy, and yet so often I know am not. So, I read on further.

The second part of this section addresses prayer, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I do pray. I pray a lot. But if I am honest, my prayers are more often rushed, while in the shower, while driving, or while dealing with a teenager in the morning. They are quick “Lord, help me!” prayers, and that is totally okay. But God also calls us to spend time alone with him in prayer. He calls us, just like Mary, to be still and sit at his feet so that he can teach us a better way.  

Jesus had a very busy schedule and whole crowds of people demanding his time, and yet the bible says he often slipped away by himself to pray. If the God of the Universe felt that he needed to make prayer a priority, I would be wise to do the same.

Even if I only set aside 5 minutes a day to spend some time in quiet communion with God, I know it makes a difference in my attitude for the rest of the day. Those 5 minutes give me a chance to release my worries, to remember all that I have to be grateful for, and to simply bask in God’s love, allowing him to speak to my heart. I am always glad that I spent those moments with him.

So why do I so often push it off, thinking I just don’t have the time?

Because it is not my default reaction. It is something I need to be taught.  

And then I read further down in Philippians about our thoughts.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

There are many studies out there today focusing on the power of our thoughts. And over 2,000 years ago the bible warned us about it. Our thoughts can set the trajectory of our day. If my thoughts are negative it doesn’t take long for my attitude to take a nose-dive. But if I do as Paul says and “. . . take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5b) then I can turn my negative thoughts around which in turn helps my attitude.

Just like my ears, nose, and throat are all connected and affect each other, in the same way my attitude, prayer life, and thoughts are all connected to each other and affect one another.

When I rush prayer, my thoughts turn negative, and my attitude is rotten. When I make prayer a priority, my thoughts are more positive, and my attitude is much more pleasant.

But it is not something I will do automatically. It is not my default setting. It is something I must work at. A habit I must learn.

And lucky for me, I have a great Teacher.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt. 11:29-30 (MSG)

Dear Jesus, so often I just say a hurried prayer and then run off into my day. Help me to make time for a few quiet moments with you so that I can release my worries and remember all that I have to be grateful for. Help me to focus on positive thoughts. To focus on what is true, good, and right. To bask in Your Presence and let you speak to me. Give me grace for the times I mess up and gently call me back to You. Grow in me an attitude of thankfulness, joy, and peace, Lord, so that my kids won’t remember a drill sergeant mom. But instead they will remember a mom full of joy. Amen.  

Do you struggle to be full of joy? What do you do to help you stay connected to God? To keep your thoughts focused on what is good? To keep your attitude from turning sour? What are you learning about prayer?

Share your comments below! Let’s learn from one another!

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2 thoughts on “Full of Joy?

  1. Another wonderful post!

    I am generally a glass-half-ful kind of chick. My high school superlative was “Most Likely to Smile on a Monday,” which is true. My joy is more than skin deep, it is in my marrow, my DNA. But with that said, there are times that my mind can become clouded, overwhelmed, and my joy gets misplaced. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to recognize when I am approaching this path and it has served as a trigger to reset, to pause—even for five minutes–to get my head and heart aligned.

    When my girls were little (I just sent my youngest off to college this year), I used to wonder if I would ever have time to just sit at Jesus’ feet and worship and read and sing and mirror the example of Mary in the Bible. I felt like I identified with Martha a whole lot more. Responsibilities—responsibilities that God gifted me with mind you–pulled me away from that quiet I longed for.

    When I discovered podcasts, I thought my world had forever changed. Not only was I always playing something (If you’re interested, I listen to Elevation Church–Pastor Steven Furtick, Hope City–Pastor Jeremy Foster, and ALCF–Pastor Brian Lorits), my girls were hearing God’s Word too.

    I also had to learn to let go of the expectations I was placing on myself. I am pretty sure I was harder on myself that God was. To be honest, I’m still learning how to do this one well.

    What I find admirable about you is your desire. That counts! I know the Lord is honored by your mindfulness of Him. I am certain He smiled as you wrote this post and said, “Ah there’s my girl. Man, I love her heart for Me.”

    Sorry so chatty. I promise I won’t always write a novel in response to your posts. This one touched on a chord I’ve wrestled with so therefore my chatty side emerged! Ha!

    Karyn

    Like

    1. Oh Karyn, you can leave a novel on here anytime! It is so great to read your words of encouragement and connect with another mother. You are so right that we are probably harder on ourselves than God is. If he can call David a man after his own heart even with all the mistakes he made, he can call us women after his heart, too, even if we mess up. So true that our desire is what counts to God. He is after our hearts. Your words uplift and encourage so much Karyn! Thank you so much for commenting!!!

      Like

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