Joy

joel-215-25-pray-scriptureorg-joelHey there!  Hope you have had an amazing weekend!  Just a couple days ago, I decided to share something publicly that God has been doing in my life over the past couple of months. I shared, not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to.  Let me take you back to the spring of this year – specifically, the aftermath of having spoken at a men’s conference.  For two days, I had shared my heart with these guys – about how God wanted to move in their lives & in their personal ministry in a way that was far “beyond” what they could ever imagine.  During our final session, I had given out my personal email and encouraged them to reach out if they wanted to keep in touch.  Then, in true James fashion, I joked, “And…if you know any single 30 year old women, feel free to give them that email.”  They laughed, I laughed, but my humor about that was because it was on my mind.

The drive home, I thought about many things – including the statement I had made.  The next week (one of the days which would have been my wedding anniversary), I thought about it.  Each time I entertained the idea of jumping back into the possibility of inviting someone into my life, I would remind myself of the resolution I had made that dating was not for me and that I was destined to be “the cool” grandpa. In full disclosure, I have dated since my late-wife died.  Both of those times, I felt like I was ready to date and both of those times I found out – often very painfully (I think more so to those ladies) that I wasn’t. Since my last dating relationship, I asked God to surround me with people who were smarter then me, who could call me out on areas of my heart where I was holding back and not allowing Him to heal.  Those conversations and moments were painfully difficult – but so very good for me! I also became more intentional about being content regardless of whether or not I was “with someone” ever again. I still, however, believed that I couldn’t go through the dating experience again.  And the main reason why was because….I didn’t trust God to walk me and a potential someone else through the “what ifs” and the details that aren’t known immediately. In the almost six years since Jaime died, I had built a wall around my heart, thinking that if I didn’t allow anyone or anything to breach that wall, I would never again have to experience the searing pain of hurt and loss ever again.  I truly understand why I did that.  But now, I can look back and say with both wisdom and regret that in the process of doing that, I hurt other people and I kept myself from experiencing full healing – the full healing that only God can bring.  Ultimately…and the reason for this week’s blog….I potentially was missing out on the opportunity to receive and give love once again. 

In June, I made the decision to jump back into the possibility of dating.  Not too long after that, I met someone named Joy. From the very beginning of our conversation, I found that her name perfectly matched her personality and her heart.  My smile about Joy is gigantic – not only because of who she is and all that God is doing in our relationship, but because of how evident it is that God has been present in both of our lives, walking us through similar experiences, and crossing our paths at just the perfect time.  She is an incredible, beautiful soul, and it is so exciting to share what God has been up to, with you.

There have been several times, since June, where I reflected on the reality that God has brought joy into my life.  That’s not an intentional pun – I mean that!  I am a joyful person, but remember that wall I shared about earlier?  God’s desire was for me to have full and lasting joy – not just in some parts of my life , when I gave Him permission, or if He promised that I wouldn’t have to feelpain or disappointment ever again.  The joy in my life is from giving up control, allowing Him to heal and remove each brick that I once falsely believed would keep me safe and secure.  God’s joy has come about because of His healing and abiding peace.  The Joy in my life, since June, is also a gift from God that I am so incredibly thankful for. 

So, as you read this, I would appreciate your prayers on our behalf – for this beautiful, imperfect journey we are on together. I would also encourage YOU to take stock of areas of your own heart that you are trying to protect.  Friend, I share this from recent experience….God CAN and WILL heal deep scars.  Let Him love you to life and bring a rushing wave of hope, healing, and lasting joy into your heart. 

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