I know I’ve posted a version of this before, but I figure if I’m still trying to live it myself, maybe someone else is too.
Most advice for a difficult season is to do something for yourself—work out, talk to a friend, shop, or douse yourself in various essential oils. They all have some value, but are only a partial solution to encouraging yourself. We’re certainly physical and emotional beings, but at our core, we’re spiritual. No matter what else you’re doing to lift yourself up, if your spiritual life is depressed, everything else in your life will be off too.
The more I’ve done this, the more important I know it is: don’t become passive with a dark mood, letting it run its course through your mind and heart. The best way to start encouraging yourself back to life is to displace every judgment, wound, and negative thought by thanking God for every blessing, healing, and good thing in your life.
This is about your choice. God wants you to be brilliantly joyful, but he loves you too much to violate your free will by programming your response. You’re not a robot, and he’s not a control freak. That joy you’re looking for comes from choosing to see things as he does, and living in agreement with that view.
Take a deep breath. Ask God who he wants to be for you right now, and who you are to him. Let him speak to your identity, and your circumstances, until you see your life with all the grace, joy, and hope he does. Write it down. Say it. Live in it, and you’ll become it.
Take another breath. Read the Gospels or Psalms until you find the scripture that’s just right for you. You’ll know it. Just as grief can come in waves, so too does peace and joy, washing over your mind and heart. Ride the wave by reading it out loud. Do it again. Declare it over your life. If you’re not sure where to start, try these:
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest. Share my yoke—my good plans for your life—and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. With me, you will find true rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, paraphrase).
“I’ve said these things to you, so you’ll know in me you can have real peace. In this world you’ll encounter pain and persecution, but be encouraged—I’ve already overcome the world” (John 16:33, paraphrase).
“The Lord is my shepherd, so I have all I need. He leads me to rest in green meadows and beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along his good paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me” (Psalm 23:1-4a, paraphrase).
When you don’t know anything else, know this: you are loved. Not for your performance, or how much pain you can take. You’re loved because that’s who Jesus is. He loves you because he loves you because he loves you. Let that be your new foundation, and your reset button every time nothing else makes sense.