Fighting Stress – The Great Joy Stealer



“Dad, do you want to throw the baseball?”

As Steve answered yes, I thought back to all the times he told me he couldn’t wait for the days he could throw a ball in the yard with his boys. One of the many dreams of a dad.

Something comes alive in Andrew when he slips his hand into a baseball glove. His entire demeanor changes, his attitude shifts, his words become animated, and his eyes light up.

Not surprisingly the door from the garage to the kitchen had been left open, which allowed me to hear the steady thud of the ball hitting leather. Voices drifted in and out, mingling with the rhythm of chopping. Setting the knife down, I stepped outside and watched from a distance.

His 5-year-old little body had this electricity running through it. After a few minutes of throwing, he paused and put his hand on his chest to feel the rhythm of his heart. “Dad! Dad! I feel something in my heart! I think….I think. It’s….JOY!”

I know that feeling. That feeling of using a gift God has given me and finding the unexpected gift of joy. I also know the feeling of working out of my gifts and losing my perspective, thus losing my joy. Viewing my gifts not as gifts, losing my gratitude.

When I view my gifts as to-do’s they become too much to do. The joy fades, the stress invades.

One thing I remain thankful for. That God is ever patient with me. That He never gives up on me. That He promises to continue the good work He began in me until completion.

I’m a slow learner. God takes me on long journeys to teach me. He knows I need the extra time to process.

It has been one year since Seeking Christmas released. To that point I blogged when I felt like it and received extreme joy in the process. In the last year I began blogging more, attending conferences, speaking, writing book proposals, and meeting with publishers and agents. And just like that, I began feeling stress rather than joy. I’ve had practice with the enemy and his tactics. How he loves to get our focus off God and onto our to-do’s.

I’m fighting back by stepping back. No more conferences, no more meetings, no more proposals. For now. I need to rest in Him. I need to be restored by Him. This isn’t just about my writing life. It affects my everything life. It affects the kind of wife I am, the kind of mom I am, the kind of friend I am.

It doesn’t take much to lose our perspective. My gifts are to be used to glorify Him. When they stop glorifying Him in all ways, it’s time for a reset.

Here is something I’ve learned about working out of the gifts He’s placed in us. They fill this little joy tank in us that then flows out of us into the ones we are serving and doing life with. Our gifts glorify Him, our joy glorifies Him.

I hit the reset button here every time.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Gifts aren’t just the obvious gifts like painting and singing and writing, but the unique expressions of Him He placed in you. Gifts are gifts, whether big or small. The tender way you parent. The way you patiently listen to your child tell a long-winded story. The way you remember to keep clean your husband’s favorite pair of pants. The way you never forget to send a handwritten card to your best friend on her birthday. The way you hug the child that enters your classroom door. The way you meet a neighbor and make her feel as though she’s always known you. The way you smile at the clerk every time you see her. Unique expressions of you, handcrafted into you by your Creator. Gifts you give of you to another. For Him.

Unique expressions of Him expressed through you. Those are gifts. Don’t let stress steal your gifts. Stress is the great joy stealer. Stress moves our focus from upward to inward making us less effective outward. Fight back by stepping back. Stepping out of the scene. Hitting the reset button. Allowing Him to restore the joy that only comes from Him.

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