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The Antonym of Joy

The world would tell us that we need to take time for ourselves when life gets overwhelming, and there is something to be said about a healthy balance. However, I have discovered that life is much more fulfilling when we take time for others and leave ourselves behind.

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I need to be a little honest and a little vulnerable right now. For right now, let’s just talk as friends; like we’ve known each other forever.

So if I could describe the last two days, I would describe them as horrible and wonderful all wrapped into one. They were horrible because I nearly caved under a lot of pressure; wonderful because God gave me the solution I needed. Horrible because I discovered something that was lacking in my character; wonderful because I discovered that it can change.

I just spent the last two and a half years serving as a missionary in South America, investing my life into many other people. It was not easy at all, but it was fulfilling. It was not devoid of tears, but there was always joy. Why? You could say that it was because I was in the center of God’s will, and in the center of God’s will there is joy. However, I found that there is a little more to it than that, because I have been in the center of God’s will for the past two months as well, but I watched the joy being sucked more and more out of my life as time went along. I saw lethargy and apathy taking over my life. I grew depressed. I lost a lot of my desire to keep moving forward, and to be honest, I hadn’t felt that way in a LONG time and it scared me. I kept thinking, “Is this the culture shock that I was told would set in?”

Fundraising is really hard, not only because I hate asking for money (can I get an ‘amen’ from everyone out there who is fundraising?), but also because people who have never had to do it on a large level before don’t understand how all-consuming it can be. People ask me what I have been doing with my life, and it’s extremely hard to explain that fundraising and figuring out my next job has been a worthwhile and responsible way to spend my time. “Are you working anywhere?” Somehow, “Yes, I’ve been fundraising” is not a good enough answer. And I get it…if someone has never done it before (and I’m not talking about a mission trip here, I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars), then it’s logical how that answer would not make sense.

The thing that almost destroyed my heart, however, is how much the focus has changed in my life. I spent the last two and a half years investing in other people, only to return to the States and spend a ton of time in front of people, on the phone with people, writing letters to people, asking them to give ME money, so I can go out and continue serving. Even though I am not one that naturally enjoys being the center of attention, it’s not just a personality preference. It became a dangerous thing for me. Being a guest speaker in many churches, youth groups, etc. has put me in the limelight, and it has been about me, me, me. Although it has been humbling to see several people gathering around me and supporting me, I have been the center of attention a little…or a lot…too much.

It’s easy for life to get that way, right? It’s easy to start to think that way. Life can be all-consuming and it can be very difficult. When we are not only trying to move mountains but an entire mountain range, it’s easy to put on the blinders and get engrossed in our own little world. The problem with that is this: it goes against the desire of God for our lives and becomes bitter poison to our hearts. I drank that poison, and I was sick.

I had become so consumed with myself and my particular problems that I had lost the art of serving others. There was no giving in my life; only receiving. There was no sacrifice for others; only sacrifice for my future. The world would tell us that we need to take time for ourselves when life gets overwhelming, and there is something to be said about a healthy balance. However, I have discovered that life is much more fulfilling when we take time for others and leave ourselves behind.

Being a creative person, there is no end to my imagination in how I can be a blessing to those around me. There are, however, many things in my character that stand in the way. Selfishness, for one. Pride, for another. Laziness, for another. All three must die for humility to come to full expression in my life, and the Bible says that it is the pure in heart that will see God. So Lord, make me pure in heart.

What about you? You didn’t think I would leave you off the hook now, did you? It’s time for you to take action. Discover the joy that can only be found in giving your life away. Start with something small. Bake cookies for your neighbor. Knit a scarf for a lonely person at the hospital. Serve dinner at the local homeless shelter. Get out there and DO something for someone else; not so you can look good, but so that someone else might see a light in you. Let the smile of heaven be your reward. There’s so much more to life than YOU…go look for Jesus in the eyes of the people around you.

About the author chelseamaxine

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