Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Choose Joy

Even from the first when my depression started to get the better of me, I have hated the way it made me feel.  Yet at the same time, there was some measure of comfort in my depression.  Because I carried it with me for so long before seeking help, it became my new normal.  For a long time, I was
not sure I wanted to quit being depressed because I had forgotten how to live a life in the fullness of God’s joy and peace. 

I also wanted, for the longest time, for SOMEONE to come along, pick me up, dust me off, and fix me—tell me what I needed to do to quit being so depressed.  Even when I first started seeing my counselor, as I would leave my weekly sessions with her, I wondered how and why she had not admitted me to the local mental facility rather than let me walk out the door.  I did ask her during a recent session why she had not admitted me; she said that she had seriously thought about it, but the bottom line was that I had not asked for it and she did not like to admit people who did not ask for it.

Those were powerful words because if I had known that, I would have asked her to admit me.  I was lost in more ways than one and not only did I not know how to get un-lost, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. 

More than anything, her words made me realize that while I was getting help through counseling as well as other sources (seeing a doctor on a regular basis, getting prescription medications to help with the severe depression, seeing a chiropractor, and so on), I could not depend on these doctors, etc. to make me feel better….to make me better.  They could only help give me the tools that I needed to be able to make a choice of whether or not I wanted to get better.

It all boiled down to the simple fact that I, Polly Anna, had to make a choice that I wanted to get better, that I no longer wanted to allow depression, anger—rage, actually, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence to rule my life. 

So, okay.  I made the choice that I no longer wanted to live that way, but then came the “Now what?!”  I had no idea where to go from there.

I admit that I found it strange—I still do—that me, a woman who has been saved, a Christian, for most of her life (since I was about three or four years old) had no idea where to begin finding my way out of the deep, dark, cold cave I had been in for so long.  I only knew that I needed to get up and start moving.

Thankfully, with the help of my medical team (most of whom are Christians) and the Holy Spirit, I gradually began to see a change in my whole being.  There is no one thing that I can put my finger on that has led me at least to the entrance of my cave.  I will always be near my cave.  It is my home now.  At least I no longer have to live in the deepest, darkest, scariest recesses of my cave.  I can live in the opening of the cave; I can even leave it for longer and longer periods.  Because of the tragedies I have suffered in my life, my cave will always be my home.

My counselor and I talked about what started me on my path to healing.  I said that it was a combination of many things that have happened over the past two or three years.  While she agreed, she also said that she believes, more than anything, that my healing truly began when I started studying Joy in depth.

One of the first things I did when I realized that only I could change the horror of my life was to begin reading my Bible in earnest and doing one Bible study after another.  I have always read my Bible on a consistent basis and I have memorized a lot of Bible verses, so that wasn’t something I had to learn to do.  I had, though, gotten slack in my Bible reading and Bible studies simply because I was too depressed to care to bother with it.  I knew I needed to get back to reading my Bible on a daily basis, so I chose a Bible reading plan and got started reading my Bible every single day.  Then I found a Bible Study on Joy—I liked the pretty pink cover and it was by the Women of Faith, so I knew it was a good study—and began serious Bible study on a daily basis—again. 

I did not make it all the way through my yearly Bible reading plan that first year, but I did make it through eight months.  Rather than beat myself up over it, as the new year started, I chose another plan and started again. 

As soon as I finished my first Bible study on Joy, I found another one on Joy and went through that one, too.  At first, it was not conscious on my part that I was doing a focused study on Joy, but after about three or four of them, I realized that I was doing a word study.  Then I began to take it deeper.

I searched for every use of the word Joy in all of my favorite Bible translations.  I marked each verse in my different Bibles.  I found that I associate the word Joy with the color pink, so not only did I mark my Bibles in pink ink or pink highlighters, but I even bought a couple of pink Bibles in the translations I wanted to work with. 

I studied the definition of Joy.  I took it a step further and marked the variations for the word joy in all my Bible translations as well as studied the definitions for each:  rejoice, enjoy, glad, happy, happiness, etc.

Eventually, I began noticing songs and poetry that focus on Joy.  I now have files of the lyrics to songs about joy as well as copies of poems.  That naturally led to pictures about Joy as well. 

And then one day when I was sitting quiet before the Lord, He showed me—again, Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9—“You love justice and hate evil.  Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”  I said, “I know, God.  You showed that to me a while ago.  I really love those verses.”
And the Holy Spirit said, “No.  Read them again.  Slowly.  With your heart.”
“Ok, Lord.”
The words began to sink in to the deepest recesses of my soul.  God wanted to pour out His oil of joy on ME more than on anyone else [I know]. 
Wow.  “But I’m so unworthy, Lord.  I’m still so depressed.  I’m still so angry and even full of rage.”
“Let me handle it.  Just trust me and let me fill you with my joy.”
I wish I could say that the infilling of God’s anointing oil of Joy filled me immediately and that my depression, rage, and anger faded away as the sunset, but the truth is that I am still working on it.  I still have days when they rear their ugly heads and try to take me back down.  At least now I know that the enemy is trying to keep me from receiving God’s full anointing oil of joy and I am better prepared to deal with the challenges. 
I have a long way to go, but I know that God will not give up on me, so I can’t give up on myself, either.
I share all of this with you to say that no matter where you are in your journey, it is important to get quiet before the Lord and let Him reveal a verse, a song, a poem, whatever it is He wants to give you that He has for you.  The scriptures (the anointing oil of joy) God gave me more than likely will not be what He has for you.  Maybe He will give you the same verses, but I very seriously doubt it.  In my studies on joy, while others have found Joy to be a focal point of their lives and studies, I have yet to read about someone else who received these exact verses from the Lord as I have.
God works in His own way with each individual as is best for each individual.  What I need from Him is not necessarily what you need from Him.  He gives each of us exactly what we need when we need it, but we have to be willing to listen as well as be obedient to what He wants of us.  God is not going to conform you to what He has for me or anyone else; He wants you to be you and your ministry to be your ministry.  In order to find that ministry, you have to find the source of your ministry.
Think of it as your mission statement.  Your life verse.  The thesis (point) of your own life.  Your purpose.  God uses our own personal experiences, quite often our tragedies, to help create our individual ministries.  I am working on mine and I share all of this because it is my heart’s desire to see you find yours.
After being depressed for more years than I can count, I can tell you in all honesty that the natural high I get from allowing God to anoint me with His oil of joy is greater than any drug, any shopping, any food, or anything else I have attempted to find joy in.  It all boils down to the simple fact that I am finally working on being in His will and following the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than believing the lies Satan has fed me.
I CHOOSE to be a woman anointed with God’s oil of joy—more than anyone else!  I receive His anointing oil of Joy!

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