How do we find and hold onto the joy that belongs to us as Christ-followers? To find out, we talked with Thelma Wells, author of God Is Not Through with Me Yet (WaterBrook). In her early years of marriage and motherhood, Thelma experienced a near nervous breakdown. Then several years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and spent weeks in intensive care on life support, not expected to live. Yet Thelma bubbles over with joy. We wanted to know why.
What gets in the way of us truly experiencing joy?
Thelma: Trying to be somebody we're not.
God made us wonderfully in his image. But we look at life from the eyes of our culture: where I should live, what I should drive, where my kids should go to school, what I should have in my house. We begin to compete for status, for recognition, for all of these things that mean little or nothing in the end. And when we do that, we become confused about who we serve and why we serve.
If we aren't careful, we can become so angry and depressed and confused and overwhelmed that our joy goes underground.
Underground? That's a different way to put it. Usually we talk about losing it.
We don't lose joy. Once God gives it to you, it's yours. The Spirit of God comes to live in us. And he brings joy that the world cannot give and cannot take away. But we can make it go underground, where it gets covered up by the stuff of the day.
We women try to do too much. When I got married, I thought I could keep a house clean, do the laundry, make the meals, work in the community, work in the church, and have all these children. I felt neglected. And I hated my life. I mean, hated it. Okay? And then I started hating my husband. I felt like I was doing everything for everybody and getting nothing in return. And I ended up almost having a nervous breakdown. That was a defining moment for me.