In my quest for seeing the Lord’s hand and blessings in the day to day, I’ve noticed a few enemies that stand in the way of this search for joy. To know thy enemy is helpful in that it can bring clarity and help show the way forward. To that end, here are three enemies that can lead us to miss God-intended blessings and joys on the pathway of life:
Throughout a day, there can be a lot of joy to be found, but there may be equal amounts of displeasure or distraction from that joy. It is easy to fixate on what went wrong, what didn’t go according to plan or who let us down. But, if those disappointments become all we see, we can miss the blessing or joy God has for us. For example:
- It is easy to be distracted by the muddy, torn-up yard and miss the joy on the kids’ faces as they play on a slip-n-slide.
- It is easy to be distracted by the messy clothes and face, while missing the spark in the toddler’s eyes as they devour/destroy a popsicle.
- It is easy to be distracted by the sickness of relatives during a family get-together, while missing the laughter and giggles of cousins who haven’t seen each other in a long time.
- It is easy to be distracted by an argument on a family road trip and miss out on many other moments of peace throughout the vacation.
The enemy of distraction can shift our gaze from joy to discouragement in a blink of an eye.
We also miss out on joy simply because of our own expectations. I frequently see people who want the perfect wedding or want to build the perfect house or go on a perfect vacation. With that high of a standard, things are bound to be less-than-perfect, which leads to disappointment. We also absorb so many pictures, videos and other social media posts, we are left with lofty expectations for our own life and experiences. Those expectations are simply unreasonable. I have found that I cannot expect crisp, catalog-quality, photoshop perfection in my life since this is not a perfect world (and I’m not perfect either!).
Those expectations are closely connected to our third enemy – comparison. A lesson I have learned and am continually reminded of is this: Comparison is the thief of joy. We set ourselves up for disappointment when we dare to compare our lives with that fake, manufactured, unattainable Hollywood standard that is often set before us. If we follow that road with those comparisons, we will only be met with discontentment at each turn. Though this is a tendency I try to hide in my life, it is easily seen in my daughters’ daily interactions. For example, one of them is reading a book. Then the other one suddenly wants that book too. A fight ensues. But it’s not really about the book. They see what someone else has and become discontent with their own stuff.
So, I encourage you to become aware of the things that stand in the way of the joy of the Lord. It has helped me to identity the distractions, expectations and comparisons that try to steal joyful moments from my life. While doing so, cling to God’s promises. God is good. He wants to give you good gifts.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:16-17)
As we try to embrace the joy of the Lord, let us also set our eyes beyond. Let us look to the day when Jesus will return, when the mortal gets swallowed up by the immortal, the imperfect by the perfect. Our souls for long for that coming reality. In the meantime, “God help me not allow my idol of perfectionism to get in the way of enjoying each season, day and moment of life. Help me to practice counting my blessings and seeing your hand in my life. I want to seek joy throughout all my days!”