Each time I read a book or participate in a study, I set my mind on the purpose and the intentions for this particular time and season of study. I think what is the one take-away that I can gain from this study that will leave an impact on my life. What can I run with?
In 2017, I started attending a church that has a wonderful women’s bible study group. As a group, we recently completed the “Defiant Joy” study by Candace Payne, the “Chewbacca Mom”. Each week the book challenged us to activate our faith through small “Joy Lab” exercises. We were provided with a list of “fun work” assignments that challenged our thinking and provoked conversation. I wanted to share my experience with one of our “Joy Labs”.
Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? There were times in my life I felt that burden but in this particular season of my life I didn’t feel “heavy” or weighed down that was until I completed this faith exercise.
During one week’s “Joy Lab” exercise we were challenged to:
- Gather Rocks
- Write down some personal struggle on the rocks in one word
- Carry the rocks on our bodies for 7 days
- Gather as a group and bring our rocks together
To this point, I had enjoyed participating in each assignment and I wanted to do the work. So I strategized and came up with the most “efficient” way for me to carry around my rocks all week.
I went to my yard and selected the smallest rocks I could find. I washed and cleaned the rocks then I wrote my words on them. Once I was done, I put them in a plastic bag and then a fanny pack – to carry them around with ease.
I loved the idea of this challenge but I didn’t really want to be “challenged” or inconvenienced.
In January, I wrote about my word of the year, Cultivate. This is a positive word that helps guide me through the year, remaining focused on my big picture goals for my life and my family.
This Joy Lab had me digging deep to find words for some of my very personal struggles. These were not positive words but words that I’d much rather keep hidden. Words that I would rather not admit that are a part of my unspoken struggles. You know the struggles that you don’t share with others because of shame or guilt. Here are some of my words that I wrote on my rocks:
We can have dirty / ugly emotions, burdens that we carry around with us day and night for so long that we forget they are even there. We feel heavy. We feel tired. We feel exhausted. We feel helpless. We feel hopeless. And we aren’t sure why. These “rocks” become a part of us so much so that the weight feels normal and maybe even comforting for some.
I wanted my rocks to be clean, conveniently packed away and easy to carry. The first morning, I carried my physical rocks was a breeze. I thought this exercise is going to be easy. I have a plan and it is working … but then about after 4 hours of wearing my rocks I felt heavy, weighed down. I felt the tightness forming in my back from carrying these rocks around as I went about my day.
It was then I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit. That gentle, quiet nudge that so faithfully leads me in the right direction. “Why do you do that? Why do you try to clean-up and justify your sin? There is another way. A better way.”
There is another way
I worry. I have fears. I have doubts. I have thoughts and emotions that are seeds planted in my heart and mind by the enemy of our souls. But instead of using God’s word, I cling to the worry, to the fears, to my rocks by justifying these emotions instead of proclaiming God’s word over my life, my circumstances, my rocks.
Most of the time, I don’t even realize that I am doing it. Have you been there?
We may feel a thought creeping in and instead of speaking God’s word over our emotion, we think and say words to justify those emotions. We enter the rabbit trail of justification when GOD WANTS TO SET US FREE!!
It was after 4+ hours of carrying the burden, weight and physical reminder of my rocks that I realized God wants to set me free of these unhealthy emotions. He wants to set me free from all that weighs me down.
He wants us to carry and declare His truths over our life – continually. He wants to give us rest for our very tired soul. He doesn’t want to lighten the load, but to remove it completely.
He is a real and lasting peace. Not a temporary high offered by so many vices available to us, but a true peace. He wants to set us free.
Jesus Said …
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
There is another way. It starts with the truth of God’s Word.
- Before we can truly be set free
- Before we can walk in joy
- Before we can confidently profess hope
We must be anchored in Jesus and His truth about our life. We must fight against the lies and the strategies of the enemy of our soul and mind. This includes realizing that sometimes we are our own worst enemy.
There is HOPE in Jesus.
This isn’t a once and done battle. We must be prepared daily ready to battle – to fight for our joy, our salvation and our victories.
I laid down my heavy rocks, my heavy burdens, my heavy emotions and I picked up God’s truths. I made a beautiful exchange. I am walking as an overcomer and I am saying NOT TODAY SATAN and NOT TODAY SELF.
My thoughts, my emotions and my life are covered by the Word of God. His promises are for me, my marriage, my children, and my family.
The Apostle Paul says the following:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”.
Romans 12:1-2 (The Message Version)
So how do we release our rocks? How do we let go of the weight that we are carrying around?
It is by the strength of the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s word. When we move from believing in our head to believing in our heart, things change.
God is not just looking for us to change our “worldly” to-do list with a “churchy” to-do list. He is not looking for a lifestyle led by a list of laws, rules and regulations. It is not just about avoiding bad behavior. IT IS SO MUCH MORE.
God is not simply looking for behavior modification but He is searching for a heart transformation.
There is joy, hope and peace when we find renewal, transformation, and complete change in our hearts and our minds through God’s power, His word, His Holy Spirit and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Beautiful Exchange
I am throwing down my rocks and exchanging them for something so much more beautiful.
- Fear: I am telling Fear that I Trust God no matter how great the storm rages around me. I am telling fear that I know bad things can and do happen but God is my refuge, He is my hope and strength in this life and the life to come.
- Worry, Doubt, Anxiety: I am telling Worry, Doubt and Anxiety, that they need to move out. The space they occupied in my mind is no longer available and Confidence has moved in and is remodeling.
- Control: I am telling Control that my ways and plans are not always the best. There is Freedom in trusting the path God has chosen for my life. I chose to walk the path of Freedom.
- Apathy: I am telling Apathy that Passion makes life worth living and is so much more fun. So I am going to live a life for Glory to God in all things – I am going to enjoy the things, sing the songs, do the dances and leave Apathy behind.
- Anger: I am telling Anger to let it go. LET IT GO! What is it that matters so much that is worthy losing my Delight in Jesus. The answer is nothing so I am choosing to let it go.
What are you rocks and how will you cover them in the truth of God’s word? Here are some of my rocks and the scriptures I am proclaiming over my life as I toss those rocks away.
I am praying that my experience and these words I’ve shared encourage you to do the same.
The recent events of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and others leave me sad and wondering what rocks they were carrying. Success, Wealth, or Social Media do not provide insight into the lives we live and the burdens we carry. Mental Illness is very serious and cannot be conquered alone, if you are suffering, please reach out for help. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
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