Here I was again…a crazy mess of tears, regret, and hopelessness. Where was this abundant life that was promised to me? Was I missing something? Was I not spending enough time in prayer or reading God’s word? Maybe I had some hidden sin that I had forgotten about? Perhaps God was holding out on me. I didn’t know the answers to those questions. All I knew was that I had been in this place many, many times before. The situation never changed. It never got any better. And my joy deflated. 2016 has been different, though. My husband says I have a lot more joy – the most he’s seen in a very long time. So what changed? For me, it was mostly one big thing that changed, but there are 4 Essential Habits of a Joy-filled Woman.
Forgiveness can be a very touchy subject for those who fail to understand exactly what forgiveness is…and isn’t. And for those who have a strong understanding of forgiveness, it is likely because they chose to forgive and have reaped the blessings of doing so.
Depending upon the offense, I tend to find that forgiveness is an ongoing process. For example, recently, on a drive home from visiting family, we passed a mini-golf activity center. My son piped up, “I remember going there for Mother’s Day!” As soon as he said those words, the memories of the day flooded my mind. It truly was a wonderful, relaxing day with my husband and kids. But it was tainted by yet another ‘episode’ by a family member who suffers from mental illness.
As I thought about that day and the painful memories associated with it, I had a choice to make. I could forgive this person for this specific incidence (these episodes occurred frequently, often ruining family outings and events) or I could hold on to the grudge.
I know how unforgiveness is a huge joy stealer, so I chose to forgive. I have written quite a bit on this topic on my blog if you would like to read more.
4 Essential Habits of a Joy-Filled Woman
Habit #1 – The joy-filled woman always chooses to forgive.
Eliminate Toxic Relationships and Behaviours
This is the area that had the most drastic change for me. There were a lot of things I had to let go of and 2015 gave me the opportunity to do just that. We sold our home moved to a different city (there were several reasons for this move). We sold and threw out items that had significant ties to a past relationship.
It really was a fresh start, so to speak. And it was so good for us and we are confident it was in God’s will. It was letting go of the unhealthy relationships and the material things that were tied to those relationships that enabled me to be more joyful in 2016. I no longer had to worry about any more of those episodes or when they were going to be triggered. The cruel words that would be spoken to me or the unkind actions that would be taken against me on a regular basis wasn’t something I worried about any longer. That freedom allowed the joy of the Lord permeates my soul.
Yes, we are called to love the unlovable. However, sometimes loving someone means taking action to not hurt each other anymore. Sometimes, it means making difficult choices for the overall mental and spiritual health of your own marriage and your own family.
God never intended for His children to be in relationship with wicked people.
For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
2 Timothy 3:2-5
Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
There are several scripture passages that warn us of being in relationship with the ungodly. Toxic people and behaviors steal our joy.
This also means taking a close look at our own lives and checking to see if there are any toxic behaviors we are exhibiting.
Habit #2 – The joy-filled woman eliminates toxic relationships and behaviors from her life.
When the Lord started to set me free from the prison of pain I was in, I realized that I never knew I was imprisoned! I had no idea what His freedom felt like! I did not know what I was missing. It was wonderful…there just aren’t any words for how I felt. It was a supernatural experience, that’s for sure.
However, I also did not understand the work it was going to take for me to continue living in freedom. I knew the difference between being stuck in that prison and being set free – and I knew I had a choice where I was going to continue living. Back in that cage or with my wings spread out, soaring high.
Sure, there are still things I struggle with. I won’t be fully and completely free until I get to heaven. But I can work towards living in freedom here on earth.
After I speak to a group of women, I always get bombarded with lies from the enemy. Things like, “you sounded stupid”, “no one really cared about what you said”, “no one was actually listening’…and so on. I have a choice to make in that moment. I can choose to start believing those lies or I can place the entire situation at the feet of Jesus, knowing I was obedient to His call in speaking. Over the years, I have gotten better at doing this – or I guess, being quicker at choosing life over death. And not giving my enemy the time of day.
Living free means knowing the tactics of our enemy. It means choosing to speak life instead of death – over every aspect of our lives. It means knowing the truth of His promises in His word. Ensuring our armor is in pristine condition and being used daily is also essential in freedom. Freedom means living a prayerful life.
When we embrace the freedom of Christ, the Spirit fills us with His joy.
Habit #3 – The joy-filled woman lives free and chooses life.
This is a topic I love to talk about. I am passionate about burden bearing because I am one! You may be wondering what a burden bearer actually is and if you are one. My post, 6 Critical Tips For Healthy Burden Bearing, will help you understand what burden bearing is. But basically, it is when a Christian feels heavily burdened about something or for someone, the details may not be known, but the heaviness of spirit is present.
There have been times when I felt just ‘yucky’ emotionally and there was no reason for me too. I’d feel ‘down in the dumps’, so to speak. When I was younger, I would think that it was ‘impending doom’ – or something bad was about to happen. I know better now, though. When I feel like that, I am burden bearing.
God never intended His children to carry burdens any further than the Cross. When we are burdened, we are to pray for someone or something. I wonder, though, how many are stuck in a state of depression when they are actually burden bearing? Us burden bearers feel so intensely, that it is easy for burden bearing to become a condition of depression.
When we realize the blessing of being a burden bearer and we begin to use this gift as God intended, we will feel the joy of this blessing.
Habit #4 – The joy-filled woman brings burdens to the chief Burden Bearer.
These are 4 Essential Habits of a Joy-filled Woman. This certainly is not a complete list, but they are 4 things I prayerfully wrote about. They are 4 main habits that have been instrumental in my own joy the last few years. What is one thing you would add to this list?
To help you rekindle the Lord’s joy in your life, I have created a printable worksheet containing reflection questions for you to respond to. I pray that working through these questions blesses your walk with the Lord.
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Aimee is a home educating support teacher who lives in the sunny Okanagan, BC. Aimee has been blissfully married since 1998 and she still swoons at the sight of her tall, dark and handsome husband, Marcus. When she isn’t home educating her 3 kids, she enjoys sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, baking, writing and hanging out with her family. Aimee is a certified teacher who works from home, supporting and encouraging homeschool families. She blogs over at A Work of Grace. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.