As I sit at my desk typing this article, I am aware that all around us, hitting us like rapid machine gun fire, is the flow of constant information and news, whether to our phone, or iPad, or Facebook, or computer, or radio. It bombards us and much of it is bad news and anxiety-inducing information.
Honestly, it can become very difficult to maintain and experience joy and cheerfulness, amidst all the crazy stuff going on. It is easy, isn’t it, to become pessimistic, or fatalistic, or downright frustrated and disheartened by all the stuff going on in our world, that we have no control over, but seems to impact our lives on a daily basis? This realization can really affect our moods and our spirits as a father and a husband. It is very easy to become, without even realizing it, a grumpy old man! Or a grumpy young man! At least for me anyway.
As dads and husbands, and providers we are out there in the trenches every day. We are surrounded by all kinds of demands, and stresses, and at times really difficult, mean people that we have to deal with. It can be quite draining. It becomes very challenging to maintain our joy, our faith-filled, hopeful outlook on life and be a cheerful and pleasant man for our wife and children to be around. In fact, I find many times we all have to struggle a great deal with discouragement.
One of the most powerful ways we influence our children and our wife is the kind of spirit that we consistently demonstrate when we are around them in the home. A father’s spirit creates a certain aura, a particular spiritual aroma. This is not easy for any of us, because all of us, though our personalities and temperaments are unique, are dealing with trials, and difficulties, or health issues, or money issues, or job issues, or marriage issues, or parenting issues, and the list just goes on and on.
It is natural to let those things get to us, they can eat away at us and rob us of our joy, of our cheerful countenance, and make us dour and grumpy. I know that has certainly happened to me.
I have also seen first hand how my cheerful attitude or joyful, faith-filled attitude has brought life and vitality to my family. This is who I want to be, to strive to be, though I do not always achieve it.
I would like to offer some things that I have found have helped me over the years. They have helped my spirit and helped me as a father of young kids with all the demands being made on us, to maintain a more cheerful and faith-filled, thankful spirit around my family.
For me, this is why our faith in God is so incredibly valuable and powerful. It is our active faith in God, that gives us the confidence to believe that God will take the current bad things in our life and work them for our good. It is our faith in God that helps us bear under the great strains of life because we know God cares for us, He is personally involved in every single aspect of our lives. It is our faith in God that helps us, let go of the things that burden us, and weigh us down, and help keep our spirit from becoming toxic and bitter. It is our faith in God that gives us a supernatural power and ability to be cheerful, and hopeful, even in the face of realities that might break another person, and rob them of their will to go on. It is our faith in God and the amazing grace of Jesus Christ that gives us the joy and confidence, knowing that God has forgiven us all of our sins and shortcomings, and we stand clean, without a single fault in the eyes of God.
What an incredibly blessed life we have as sons of God! It is amazing and gives us such a reason for joy, and hopeful faith, and gratitude, even while living amidst all the turmoil we are surrounded by.
Here are some things that have helped my joy and my attitude over the years. I hope they might be a help to you as well.
1. GOD LOVES ME JUST AS I AM.
This was not always easy for me to grasp. As a young man, I struggled greatly believing God loved me with all my flaws and weaknesses. To help me overcome this, I listened to a series of messages on the love of God, for a year, and they had a tremendous impact on my spirit and my joy. It imprinted a new belief system in me that I have nurtured and sustain all these years.
2. GOD HAS FORGIVEN ME ALL MY SINS!
How do I describe the impact this has had on my spirit and emotions? For years I struggled with guilt and shame over my failures and weaknesses. I thought all God could think about were my failures, my sins, and my flaws. At times this consumed me and robbed me of every ounce of joy and hope. As I came to understand the genuine, permanent forgiveness from all my sins, that Jesus paid for, it overwhelmed me with such tremendous joy and relief. It made me genuinely happy and extremely thankful.
3. GOD IS FOR ME, ALL THE TIME, AND WILL WORK ALL THE BAD IN MY LIFE FOR MY GOOD.
This was a tremendous truth to come to grasp. It often felt as a young man, that everything was against me. That people and circumstances were set up to wreak havoc on my life. It seemed that I was surrounded by trials and trouble all the time. In many ways I really was. However, that did not stop God from being God. It gave me such strength and yes, a faith-filled joy to know that despite these overwhelming circumstances, God was greater, bigger, and He was indeed working them for good. This greatly helped my spirit.
4. GOD IS FILLED WITH COMPASSION AND DEEPLY UNDERSTANDS ME AND MY REALITIES.
This helped me so much as a young man. I often had such a distorted view of God. He seemed to me to be so overbearing and dictatorial, sort of like Pharaoh, a “make more bricks” kind of God. I began to see in the life of Jesus the tremendous compassion and empathy God has for his children. This brought real peace and rest and joy to my heart and spirit. It helped me relax and helped me be this way with others.
5. I LEARNED TO COUNT MY BLESSINGS AND CULTIVATE GRATITUDE.
As a young man, I found it was easy and natural for me to count all the potholes in my life. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I realize it was really affecting my spirit and my attitude around my wife and kids. It made me grumpy, unpleasant, and grouchy.
As God worked with me, I made a concerted effort to find the blessings in my life, to actively make lists of blessings, and to verbalize my thanks to God for specific things. Little by little, this began to change the man that I was. It began to affect my emotions in a very good way. It made me more pleasant and cheerful because I really saw the real and tangible ways I was blessed and the many things I had to be thankful for.
If I could, I would like to illustrate. Honestly, it is very easy to take almost everything in our lives for granted. Some of what I share may seem silly to you, but I kid you not, these were on my list and they changed my whole perspective.
1. Thank you, God, for an indoor, working toilet!
Several years ago I came across a news article and it stated that almost 50% of people in India have no indoor toilet. They simply go outside in the grass or field. I was stunned. That is 500 million people in the 21 century in India with no indoor toilet. Not a day goes by now that I don’t thank God for my toilet.
2. Thank you, God, for an income that provides for our needs and allows me to pay my bills.
Did you know that half of the world’s populations live on less than $5.50 per day?? Stunning, I did not know that till some years back. This gave me a new, grateful perspective.
3. Thank you, God, for safe clean water!!
About 20 years ago, I was in another country doing some mission work. I was staying in a nice home of a friend. Someone accidentally gave me a drink of water from the faucet. I was supposed to drink only bottled water when there. Within a few days, I was so sick that for almost 2 weeks, I felt like I would die! This gave me such perspective and deep gratitude for clean, wonderful, safe water.
My list could go on, and on, and on, as I am sure yours could also. I am simply trying to illustrate that counting my many blessings, and seeing what God had given me, deeply appreciating it, and thanking Him for it, makes me a much more joyful and cheerful man. This began to permeate my spirit and fill my home life with a wonderful aroma. I became the kind of man my family wants to be around and enjoys being around.
May God make us all men who are filled with real, Godly joy, who overflow with thankfulness to God.
In closing, I wanted to wish all of you a very, MERRY CHRISTMAS! I wanted to personally thank the many of you, who are supporting me, for your tremendous, faithful, generous, financial support. You make this ministry possible, and I never take it for granted. I thank God for each of you every single morning, in my times of prayer. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.