In Lead more gently/ Purpose

Joy and peace comes at a price

A little while ago I was hurtling down the freeway, rushing to a meeting.  My thoughts were consumed by the discussions I would soon be having.  My mind also rushed to the week ahead, wondering where I could carve out time to meet with a friend.  In between this I worried.  I worried about all the things there are to worry about in life.  In my head was a torrent whirlpool, circling around all the rocks in my life.

As I changed lanes on that busy freeway, my eye caught the outline of the mountains around me.  “What a beautiful place and what a lovely day,” whispered into my turmoil.  As I embraced that thought, the whirlpool dissipated and a cool stream soothed my mind.  I slowed down, relaxed my hunched shoulders and lived in the moment.  The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue and the mountains stood like majestic sentinels surrounding the peace and glory of God.

My heart soared in instant praise to my creator.  A  joy, for no specific reason, filled me.  I breathed in life.  In that moment I truly lived.

I have discovered that this kind of joy and peace comes at a price:

  • I have to lay down my worries.
  • I have to forfeit my list of “things I wish to be different”.
  • I have to give up my need to feel important by being constantly busy.
  • I have to be grateful for what I have.

When I am able to embrace gratitude as a daily, moment-by-moment choice, I find the reward to be a deep reservoir of joy and peace.

Here are some exercises I use to help me embrace gratitude:

  • I focus on the here and now. When I obsess about the past I have a tendency to be hard on myself and think about all the things I could have done better.  When I endlessly think about the future I feel anxious to ‘get it right’.  But when I focus on the present, I am in control and can be grateful for God’s very near presence to help me.
  • I focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have. I can so easily get stuck on all the things that I want.  That makes me live in the future, always striving for something else and never quite reaching it.  Focusing on what I have now makes me grateful and brings peace.
  • I savor the joy of the moment.  I force myself to take note of now.   I literally slow down and smell the roses.  I try to take note of the colors around me, the sounds, the smells, the beauty of God in the people around me.
  • I try to share my positive experiences with others. When my family and friends share in my joy, my experiences are somehow made fuller and I find myself being more grateful.

I struggle with the above points, as I imagine most people do.  We live in a culture that moves at a frantic pace, always striving for the next thing.  Regardless of my struggle, I make a concerted effort to exercise this way of life.  I do this because the scriptures tell me to.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

Question: In what way does a spirit of gratitude help you?

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  • Faustina Washburn

    When I focus on what God has provided me in so many ways besides the basics, I can’t help but be lifted and it reinforeces my faith. I have learned over the past few years to accept that all is Gods and I am to do what is right even if I don’t agree or like it.
    God answered my prayers to save our little dog from snake bite, after I admitted Tommy belonged to him , not me, but I had to still say he belonged to God when he got eaten by the coyotes. I don’t know if dogs go to heaven but I hope so and that Tommy is with my dad having a good time in heaven. If not then I just have to trust God knows best.
    I am filled with joy by the friendships of the fellow Christians I know. Thank you Lord for all of the beautiful people you have called.

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      I don’t know if dogs go to heaven either Faustina, but like you, I hope that we experience the beauty of all God’s creatures in the ages to come. Thanks for your comments.

  • Deborah Johnson

    I believe the bottom line is to delight ourselves in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart and those desires will be to do God’s will. If our desires align with His we will the things we feel are so important here, things we rush to, scratch and claw to get and hold on to, worry about, or feel anxious over usually have nothing to do with God or His will but our own fascination with us. I wonder if God isn’t really more interested in developing our character and dependence on Him.

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      I believe God is definitely more interested in building our character! Thanks Deborah.

  • Masego Kracke

    That’s so true Michelle. It’s amazing, that just happened to me this past week. Whenever I’m caught in that whirlpool of worry/anxiety and my peace is nowhere around, I always hear God saying, take a look around, what do you see? And then He begins to show me His beauty in His creation. In an instant, joy and peace fill my spirit. So what this means is, when we take a moment to look at God, all else fades away at that moment. A grateful heart always draws God’s attention. And we know with His presence, JOY, PEACE, REST will always be there. He is the Prince of Peace and in Him we find rest. God wants us to live in the now. The past is behind, tomorrow is not assured. Yes, it’s important we invest in the future and have hopes and dreams, but we should not lose sight of what God is doing TODAY. Thanks Michelle for always sharing with us such great truth and wise words. 🙂

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      How true Masego that we should not lose sight of what God is doing today! Thanks for the lovely comments.

  • Missy Melheim

    I am thankful God and all he has done for me . I am not thankful for having to wear braces on my legs walking like I am 90 when I am only 61, having troubbles breathing my eye sight awaful but like Paul I asked God to take these thorns out of me and it hasnt happen but I know God has a purpose for it. I wish I knew but God has not reveal it to me. He is letting me live in a free country, the ability to still work and there are people worse off then I am. I might complain and feel sorry for myself because it has cost me almost everything in life but one thing i know true God loves my just the way I am and accepts me even with my limitation!!!!

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      What a wonderful list of things you are thankful for Missy. Even in the midst of hardships, we always have something to be grateful for. Thank you for sharing this.