And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I put a hole in a wall. I drew another persons blood. I broke glass. These are just a few examples of the things that I did out of anger. There was a point in time in my life where my emotions ruled me. One of our strongest emotions is anger, and for me that is heightened because I have such a big temper and used to have a very short fuse. When my son hit his teenage years everything went bad fast. I struggled to be able to communicate with him any other way besides at really high decibels. We would just scream at each other over everything. There was nothing in those moments but our raw frustration and anger with one another. He ran away from home so many times it became more common for him to be away than to be home. He eventually left permanently. He moved out and I haven’t spoken with him...well, it’ll be three years next week.
In the midst of my anger, in the middle of my temper flaring up, when I am just so frustrated I want to scream bloody murder, God is there. When I finally let Him in, when I finally started to let go of my need to control and I just tried to hand it all over to Jesus, I began to change. I’m still estranged from my son. There is still a hole in that wall. The glass is still broken. A person from my past has a scar that I put on them. And, I am still angry a lot, I still have a big temper, but God can change everything. It isn’t I that have changed, it is God who has changed me. I feel so loved, I feel so protected, I feel Him within stretching me, guiding me, teaching me. It’s Him within me that has allowed me to stop with the knee-jerk reactions and to stop putting my pain on to others. I finally got the message: rejoice in the Lord always. It’s a simple message that is very complex. The Bible doesn’t say:
rejoice when I’m relaxed
rejoice when I’m at church
rejoice when the music is playing
rejoice when I’m at a party
— it says rejoice ALWAYS.
Yep. Rejoice always. Specifically, rejoice in the Lord always. That was the message that finally got through to me. That was the message that God used to introduce me to the real Him and the real me. That was when it all changed for me...getting that message through my thick skull. Finally, I understood what God was saying:
if I’m flipped off in traffic—rejoice
if I’m screamed at by my neighbor—rejoice
if I’m in a car accident—rejoice
if I can’t pay my bills—rejoice
if a family member does something stupid—rejoice.
I don’t rejoice in what happens, I rejoice in Him. That’s how I went from somebody who took out all my pain on others by screaming at them or breaking things or hurting them, to somebody who just wants to love. A couple years ago I said to my niece, “I like people, actually I love people.” You know what she did, she laughed at me. And then she said, “no you don’t!“ My own niece didn’t think I liked people. That’s how dark my life had gotten, the people in my life that I loved couldn’t even see how much that I actually liked being around them and being around others. They just saw my pain and my anger because for so long that was all I could show the world.
I don’t know all of your pains, I don’t know all of your struggles and I don’t know if you have put your fist through a wall; but I do know that no matter what is going on around you God loves you and He’s taking care of you and trust me when I say He knows so much more about your circumstances than you ever will. How will you respond? Will you just live out your life reacting to the crap, or will you rejoice? I choose joy!
I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.
Life sucks. I think I’ve said this before, but it deserves reiterating: life sucks. Heck, just for fun let’s do it one more time: life sucks!
It may seem like I’m complaining, but I’m really not, bear with me I have a point to make. This past year has really, truly, unequivocally sucked. There was a time in May when I spent five days avoiding all people and I didn’t leave my house, I barely left my room. The constant upheaval of everything around me was devastating to me and my joy. I let my circumstances (life suckage) affect my joy. Again this deserves repeating: I, Melody Paris, let my temporary circumstances affect my eternal joy. This was not the first time and probably not the last. I hope that I can learn a truly valuable and lifelong lesson from this experience; that my circumstances are temporary, my relationship with God, the peace that He brings, the joy that I received from Him, the love that I experience in my relationship with Him are all eternal and with me through it all. God is fully aware of my circumstances, He knows more about the shit surrounding me than I will ever know. He is walking with me, He is clothing me in strength, dignity and wisdom to navigate these times. The question then becomes for me, am I going to learn from my past, am I going to respond to His gifts, am I going to walk with Him or am I gonna have to be dragged along? Time will tell. I am a stubborn person and sometimes lessons have to be beat into my brain. But, I hope. I have hope. Yep, let’s do it again: I have hope! You know what, one more time for good, strong emphasis: I HAVE HOPE!! If Paul could sing praises and continue to teach and convert while he was chained in a prison, I can deal with my worldly crap and I can do it by keeping focused on God and making Him my first priority. He is my power, the Almighty, the Anointed, Creator, Guide, Teacher, Father, King, Lover of my soul, He is my strength.
Who is He to you? When life seems to be dumping on you, does it affect your joy? Do you let societal pressures and the thoughts of others invade your expectations of yourself? When it comes to your peace and joy, where does that come from and how do you maintain it? I have a feeling You do not have the answers to all these questions, but hopefully you starting to think about them, ask them and discuss them with God.