We all have those times when our hearts feel overwhelmed. Maybe it is a death of a loved one, perhaps you are feeling all alone, possibly it is a financial crisis or job loss, could be you received bad news about your or a loved one’s health. Maybe your child is going down a dark path and you feel helpless, or maybe it is just something as simple as a fight with your husband. Whatever it is, we all have times when it is difficult to find joy. For me, I have learned a few simple steps that help me regain my joy and turn my focus off of my circumstances and back onto my all-knowing God.
What I do when I have trouble finding my joy:
- Simple Prayer
– Sometimes when I am distressed I have trouble praying a long prayer or I don’t know what to pray other than just a simple, “Help me, Father!” Eventually, I pray longer, but this is my appeal when I don’t feel like praying.
– I do not cry often, but I have found that when a situation is overwhelming me, getting out the emotions helps me to move through my feelings faster. The bible is FULL of verses about crying out to God, and even Jesus wept. God gave us the ability to cry for a reason (other than just cleaning our eyes), and I believe a reason why is so we have the ability to release pent up emotion. I think this is a gift He gave us after the fall, because He knew our hearts were not created to hold pain. I love the fact that God even says that he bottles our tears. One day He will wipe away all my tears forever, until then I am grateful for His gift.
- Write About It
– Granted, I will admit I like to write and not everyone does, but personally I have found that it really helps me to process what I am going through. Whether by writing out a prayer about how I am feeling, or a letter to a person I am upset with this method works well for me. No one ever sees my prayers and I always destroy the letters, it still gives me the release I need without saying anything I will regret.
- Listen to Good Music
– I really believe that music is a balm for the soul and can really help brighten our outlook, just like David’s songs soothed Saul. Sometimes they remind us of truths that we might not be willing to hear any other way. When we are depressed they remind us of God’s truths.
- Keep Going to Church
– Sometimes the last place I want to be when I am upset about something is church. I don’t want to be around people, I don’t want people to know I’m struggling, and I certainly don’t want to act like everything is okay. However, church is normally just what I need whether it is a song that is sung, a sermon preached, or maybe someone encourages me. I think that is one reason why God created the church. We can worship God on our own, but we can’t encourage ourselves.
- Confide in Someone I Know Will Pray
– It is a great comfort to me to know I have a very small circle of friends that if I call and ask, I KNOW they will pray, and they will also not share it with other people. The bible says where two or more come to Him …”there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) It always immediately makes me feel more at peace knowing that I’m not the only one petitioning God in a situation.
- Write Down One Thing I’m Grateful for Each Day
– This very small act has helped me so many times. When I had a miscarriage, and was is a dark place for a few months, this one act really helped me to see how much I still had to be thankful for. I got a small pocket calendar that had squares just big enough to write one thing a day on. I then made myself find something in that situation to write down each day to be thankful for. It really helped me step outside of the situation and see how God used even an awful situation for my good.
- Read Psalms
– If anyone knew despair, pain, and joy is was David, he had moments of feeling utterly alone, friends turn on him, he had deaths of loved ones, etc. (Ps. 16:11) Every time I need encouragement or need to feel like someone knows how I feel, I read Psalms. It never fails to encourage me.
- Write Out Verses
– I write down encouraging verses on note cards and tape them to my mirror or window over my sink so I am continually reminded of God’s promises, which encourages me. It’s hope to cling to right in front of my eyes all day long.
- Go for a Walk
– I have learned in recent years that when I am upset walking greatly helps me to clear my head. Not only is it peaceful and quiet enough for me to gather my thoughts, it also is great way to expend pent-up frustration.
- Do Something Nice for Someone Else
– It never helps to sit around just feeling sorry for yourself, because the more you sit, the more you brood. When I get up and do something for someone I turn the focus off myself and start to notice others again.
- Doing Something I Enjoy
– After doing all the above I chose to do something which normally brings me joy. A date with my husband, reading a good book, taking a walk, going somewhere fun with my kids…eating chocolate cake… are all things that make me happy. Yours may be totally different, whatever it is, make sure you do something that leaves you smiling.
All of this doesn’t happen by chance. I have to CHOOSE to do it. I must CHOOSE to find joy. What are some of the things you do during a rough patch to help you regain your joy?