Sadness and depression sneak into our lives like fog at the beach. A first, the sun still shines through, warming our skin and soul but soon the fog thickens and with it comes a bone-chill and a melancholy mood. Sometimes it takes us a while to realize, “Hey, I think I might be depressed! I don’t want to dwell here!”
1 Cor 13:13 offers some hope: ”
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
If you find yourself singing the blues, you are not alone. In a 2019 Fox News report:
65% say they are stressed daily
52% say they are worried daily
A recent Time Magazine Special Edition on Happiness reveals:
Only 55% surveyed claimed they were HAPPY
And when doing research for 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success at Keeping It All Together, I discovered a study that paints an even more bleak picture of just how many of us are super stressed and depressed:
83% of all Americans express stress is robbing their happiness
72% of women say stress negatively impacts their JOY
Does God Have an answer to My Sadness?
The past 3 years, because of my writing and teaching Discovering Hope in the Psalms, I have spent hours in the Psalms. The Psalmist David often wrote about this state of sorrow. In Psalms 42 and 43, he repeatedly asks:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
And the key answer in this same couplet:
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God
The GOOD NEWS is science backs up the wise “choice to rejoice” pathway to joy and happiness:
Happiness is made of from
40% CHOICES we make
– Time Magazine, The Science of Happiness
How Can I Discover (or Rediscover) My Joy?
Let’s hop over to Philippians, where I have been spending time writing Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience. (And am now doing interviews, podcasts, and teaching on joy for women’s groups, outreaches, conferences and seminars.) In Philippians, joy is so vital to the Christian life that the Apostle Paul writes it as a repeated command!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4 NIV)
How Can I Cultivate More Joy?
I have a dear friend, a First Responder, who attended a class on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), then gained certification for helping others who suffer with PTSD. Seems trauma and drama, especially if experienced consistently, numbs a person. Their emotions flatten as a protection mechanism as the barrage of trauma bombards his/her life. The impact is a depression so penetrating, that everything seems to turn grey, (like that beach fog I mentioned earlier.) It is like watching black and white TV in a world where everyone else has High Definition Technicolor! Those with PTSD forget how to cultivate and experience joy, happiness, delight and bliss.
One of the assignments my friend shared they use with those experiencing depression and despair is to sit and purposefully recall foods, experiences, scents, connections, etc. that have brought joy to them in the past. Then deliberately place some of these into their schedule each day, every day, for several months to regain their ability to feel JOY!
I believe many of us are a bit war worn, PTSD, perhaps from harsh life circumstances—or simply because this evil, broken world is hard on the soul! In turn, many find themselves very depressed. I wanted to offer those coming to my Joy Jubilee events and those in my coming online Facebook Live Discovering Joy in Philippians fall online study (begins Sept 18) a tool to recall then proactively plant these kinds of #JOYmoments into their lives.
I asked my Creative Director, Jan, to design a JOY BLOSSOM where I could reflect then pre-decide JOY MOMENTS to place in each petal and leaf, so that more than a month’s worth of these joy moments could be scheduled into my life. Carrying two lives, caregiving for my 90-year-old in laws and living our busy work/ministry life can feel heavy and overwhelming at times. So, I welcomed the opportunity to pause and pro-actively cultivate some joy! I sat in the sun on my boat deck, closed my eyes and prayed God would help me remember what has brought joy to my heart, soul and life over my lifetime. God was so faithful! And completing my Joy Blossom HELPED boost my joy and elevate my mood—A LOT!! (Download your copy of the Joy Blossom)
Try it! Find a beautiful place to sit or lay: a beach chair, by the pool, on the lake front, in a park or your back yard in the shade and day dream—just a little, close your eyes and recall what foods, what people, what experiences bring you happiness, joy, delight and even bliss—then jot them on this Joy Blossom. Color your worksheet, post on your mirror or above your desk, and SCHEDULE a few minutes each day to enJOY the life God has given you!
I would LOVE to see your Joy Blossom—post on your Facebook timeline, tag me [@Pam Farrel] or ask to be in the Discovering Joy in Philippians private Facebook group and share it there. Then, I want to personally invite you to join me this fall and create more #JOYmoments by registering for my FREE Facebook Live online Discovering Joy in Philippians online study—and invite your friends! Together, let’s cultivate joy in YOUR life and scatter joy in others’ lives too!