We asked Kathy Martin, a well known counselor with a thriving practice in Palm Beach County, if she would address questions brought to her by readers of One Christian Voice. And she agreed! Here is the first question we posed to her and her solution.
Why am I not experiencing joy in my life?
I have so much stress in my life. I’m constantly worried about my life, my kids, my marriage, and my finances. I am often overwhelmed and depressed. I hear my pastor talking about freedom and joy, and contentment in all circumstances, yet my life is filled with anxiety and dread. How do I get to this place of freedom and joy in my life? How do I overcome all of this anxiety and stress when there doesn’t seem to be any end to my problems?
Our brain continues to be the most complicated object on this planet! You asked how you can get freedom and joy into your life. Well the Lord also wants that for you. He states in John 10 :10 that He “wants us to have life and life abundant.” He then commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The question then remains as to how we get that joy back. The answer lies in a God directed brain. Eighty percent of a person’s brain is used for “self talk”. What messages are you telling your brain all day?
The average person runs, minimally 10,000 thoughts through their brain each day. Now can you imagine how filled with anxiety and depression you would be if you used the majority of those thoughts to rehearse all day, every day, all the concerns that life offers each one of us? You would probably have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Furthermore, a stream of continued negative thoughts actually reduces the “manufacturing” of those needed “happy chemicals” that our brain creates to give us that abundant life we know God wants us to experience.
Notice what 1 Thessalonians 5:16 states. It doesn’t say give thanks “for” all circumstances. It says give thanks “in” all circumstances. There isn’t any circumstance that I can’t find something to be thankful for, something I can meditate on, something to praise God in.
A struggling marriage? I can “self talk” the fact that God created marriage and will be trying to restore it, but no matter what happens the Lord tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. We are not alone.
Wayward child? I can remind myself that the Lord loves that child even more than I do and will be trying to call that child back.
Medical fears? I can worry day and night, or I can trust the Lord that He will either restore me physically or I will have the joy of seeing Him face to face! Oh glorious day!
As you fill your brain with praises all day, every day you will find your joy is restored and your anxiety diminishes. A God directed brain will give you “the peace of God that transcends all understanding.” Philippians 4:7