How to Find Joy in Every Season
BY: KELLY JOY FJESTAD
Life is a journey of emotions. No matter how organized we are, when we open our eyes in the morning, we truly have no idea how the day will unfold.
Sometimes life flows along like a well-oiled machine, and other days it feels like we hit a brick wall going 100mph.
When my kids were little, I had days filled with crying, tantrums, spilled milk and broken glass. Days when no one listened, and everyone screamed. Nights when no one slept. Moments when my walls were colored on, my furniture was spilled on, and my favorite new necklace was ripped off my neck. Those days were hard!
It always seemed on those days, when I was at the end of my rope, some well-meaning grandma would tell me, “Enjoy these moments because they go so fast and someday, you’ll miss them.”
That advice always made me mad! Seriously!?! Someday I would miss being so frazzled and frustrated I could barely think? I’d miss the sleepless nights and nap-less days? I’d miss the screaming and crying and kicking and biting? I’d miss the times when I had to try very hard not to dislike these small people that had disrupted my life and destroyed my belongings? Seriously?!?
My kids are older now, and I do not miss those days.
I think that advice is flawed. I want to enjoy these moments, but not because I’m going to miss them. I want to enjoy them because each moment is an opportunity to see God move in my life.
Of course, there are moments I look back on and smile: the handmade pictures, the sticky kisses, the moments of excitement when they learned to walk. But, I don’t spend time missing those days.
I don’t wish I could go back to the days when my kids were little. Did it go fast? The first five years, no! After age five, yes! So fast! Those first five years dragged on as if it was never going to end. One really long day and sleepless night after another. But after that, the days do seem to fly by — but I don’t miss them.
Instead, I have chosen to enjoy each and every season. I have determined to be in the moment, appreciating the gifts God has given me for today. I don’t want to go back because I fully embraced each moment when it was here. I squeezed every bit of life out of each day — the good and the bad. I didn’t wish it would go faster, but I also don’t wish to go back.
The beauty of life is that each moment allows us to experience God in a unique way. In those early parenting years, I experienced God’s strength and grace to operate on torturously few hours of sleep — and yet, I was able to because God’s grace flowed through me. I was able to love a screaming child after he had bit me, slapped me, and screamed bloody murder just because I was trying to wipe the dirt off his face. That was God’s love flowing through me.
I think the key to finding joy in the difficult moments is not a guilt trip that “you better enjoy these moments because someday you’ll miss them.” All that ever did was make me feel bad — and real joy doesn’t make you feel bad. The real key to finding joy is realizing that in every moment — the good, the bad, the ugly — God is with you!
God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
You can have joy when everything is falling apart because God is right there with you. Comforting you, leading you, guiding you. Sometimes crying with you.
You can have joy when everything is amazing because God is right there celebrating with you. Cheering you on! Laughing with you.
You can have joy in the mundane, joy in the busy, joy in the routine and joy in change. You can have joy in each and every moment because the Creator of the universe is right there with you. He is our strength. He is our joy. He is our foundation.
It is the awareness of the presence of God that brings us true joy, the knowledge He is with us no matter what obstacles are in our way. We can be confident we will have strength to go on because He is our strength.
Each day brings a unique opportunity to connect with your Father in heaven. Maybe today is a difficult day. Are you grieving? Are you discouraged? Are you depressed? God is with you in this difficult season. He will grieve with you. He will walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
It is in these dark moments you will experience God in a way you never could in the light. Unless your world is shaken, you will never understand what it really means for God to be your firm foundation. Unless you experience loss, you will never know what it means for God to be your comfort. When everything is stripped away, you truly realize He is all you need.
There are attributes of God that cannot be fully realized if we only live happy, trouble-free lives. That is why we can have joy in sorrow — because we are able to deepen our understanding of who God truly is by experiencing an attribute of His character, we would never otherwise be able to experience.
So today, embrace the season you are in. Is it a difficult season? Choose JOY because God is walking with you through this season. Look for His fingerprints. Listen for His voice.
Is it a wonderful season? Choose JOY! Allow God to walk with you through the good times as well as the bad. Take time to thank Him and appreciate His goodness.
Don’t wish for things to change or long for days passed. Instead, fully squeeze every ounce of life out of today! Choose to walk in JOY because God is walking with you.
Kelly is a wife and mother of five children living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is an ordained minister and author of PAUSED: Protecting Your Faith When God Says "Wait" and Pursuit: The Cross. For more info visit: kellyjoy.org