"Jesus is the answer."
"God loves you."
"Put your faith in the Lord."
"Joy comes from following Christ."
"Blessed is he who trusts in the Lord."
"God is always with you."
"Peace be with you."
"God is our living hope."
Oh how often we hear these words.
We utter them to those in need. We nod in approval when they are told to us in our times of need.
A few years ago, had someone asked me "Do you believe in God?" I would have of course answered yes. When asked if I love Him, I would have answered yes. Do I trust him? Yes. Do I believe He is hope? That there is hope?... and I stumble. What about joy?... wellllll.... Peace? .... ha! Funny.
But I did try. I thought.
A friend of mine always ends his emails with "Peace" - or, if I'm extremely troubled at the time, "Peace, Brandi. Peace." When I first started reading these words, I'd feel great appreciation for the thought/prayer, but didn't feel the peace itself.
A friend of mine tried to explain to me that it is ok to love and trust others - that fellowship is a good and necessary thing. To be honest, I found this all rather funny, but because I did trust this person, I figured what can it hurt to give it a try?
A friend of mine tried to convince me that peace and joy are concepts not outside my grasp. He tried to convince me that I am deserving of these things. And that I am deserving of love. And that regardless of what I have done or do in the future, I am a beloved child of God's and that He loves me. I tried to believe. Or, perhaps I tried to find reasons not to believe.
Recently, something has changed...Love... hope... joy... peace... trust... ?
I have these.
When I start to feel chaos, and read that one simple word... I truly do feel peace.
During those moments of sorrow, when tears flow openly, I know I am loved. I am willing to let these tears fall in front of others. I am willing to trust... to put myself out there.
My sorrow does not become a dark, deep pit of depression.
Even in moments of anger, I am able to forgive... including myself.
Abandonment, betrayal, hatred, worthlessness, defeated, broken... I see these all hiding around corners, barely even existent any longer. But they don't win anymore. And they know they've lost. They're just those old rags I haven't had time to toss away yet. For awhile, I kept 'em around for sentimental reasons... and because I figured they'd be back anyway. And, perhaps they will be. But I don't want to keep them around any longer. And if they do come back for a visit... it's ok. I know it'll be a very short one.
But how do I know this???Faith, my friend. Faith.
And where does this faith come from?
Easy... I found the answer. I found the secret to happiness.
How many times have we heard "Jesus is the answer"? How many times have we told others this? And... how many times have we honestly, truly, believed it?
I didn't. In a way, perhaps, I believed it. I mean, Jesus is the answer in regards to our salvation. But... he's also the answer to our happiness here on earth.
In a comment to my latest post regarding 5 words I used to scorn (peace, love, trust, joy, hope), a friend of mine said that these words are "all found through Faith in God and Our Savior Jesus Christ. Sure, some or all can be found to some degree in someone without Christ in their life, but the depth and completeness of them are not even close to the same without that faith." (thank you +Joe Huguenard).
And that's when the anvil hit me in the head.All this time... all these years of believing... I hadn't really let Christ into my heart. I had cut myself off from love and trust so much that I'd even blocked God. I wouldn't let myself believe I was worthy of love. And, after a little poking and prodding and pushing to get me to take down a wall or two (or twelve)... I've come to realize that the friend of mine who said it's ok to love and trust was actually right. In fact, it seems, the more I let people in, the more I let Jesus in. The more I let Jesus in, the more hopeful I feel. The more I let myself love, the more I feel loved. And, all this love and trust and hope... I feel joy. I feel peace.
No, it's not always happy. There are still days of chaos and frustration and anger and fear and everything else that used to cloud my heart and mind and soul. But... they don't cloud my heart, mind or soul anymore. They're there. Of course they are. This is life. We will be sad. We will feel loss. We will get angry and annoyed. But they don't define me.
Because I have found the answer... and oddly enough, it's as I've been told since the beginning - Jesus. Jesus is the answer.