In the world today, even in the midst of a pandemic, women are experiencing a crisis of unhappiness.
Perhaps it is even it's own pandemic.
Jen Oshman, in her new book, Enough About Me: Finding Joy in an Age of Self, writes to women, to encourage them to find true, lasting joy, as they become rooted in Christ.
She writes that "holiness requires intentionality. If we are going to pursue lasting joy, we must be rooted, built up, and established in the Gospel."
So, why do we lack joy in the first place?
She proposes that we have developed a me-centered faith. Our worship songs, our spiritual growth, as a Christian culture, has slipped into a mindset of me. We can sing about what we will do for God, what we want from God. During worship services, we think about how the worship served me, and benefited me. By doing this we begin to think that we are most important.
A me-centered faith also means that we begin to believe in ourselves. We think that we can carry on in our own strength, resist temptation by our own power or grow by our own practice of disciplines. Strength, resilience and spiritual disciplines are not bad things, but if we forget that God's grace touches us first, that it is His grace given that actually equips us in all these endeavours, we have missed the mark.
~Joy begins to grow as we nourish ourselves in God alone. In the middle of a pandemic and isolation, we need to be extra careful about what we are feeding ourselves with. Our brains read the headlines, we talk about it with our family and friends and it becomes an obsession. Let's take some time out of social media to actually sit and receive the grace of God's Word, to rest in prayer and fix our eyes on what is true.
~We confess our need for Jesus. We really, truly need to depend on Him. When we give thanks before a meal, are we truly grateful? Do we recognize God's hand of mercy over us in our health, our jobs, which provide us the means of gaining access this food? We forget what it means to truly rely and depend on Him. During the pandemic, we begin to feel that angst and panic, because we are used to being in control.
~It's time to order our loves. "It's not a matter of knowing what's best; it's a matter of loving what's best." We may know truth, yet what keeps us from living out that truth? If it's recognizing that spending time with Jesus would be more beneficial than another 15min reading headlines, what's stopping us from doing it? Let's take courage and make choices to foster a love for what He loves.
~Joy in sacrifice. The greatest demonstration of love is always found in someone's sacrifice. What does sacrifice look like for you and how you love on others? Will we face whatever God asks of us with joy? There are so many circumstances that we have no control over. Can we surrender our circumstances, our loved ones and our futures to Him?
"Lasting joy comes from that journey, and he's eager to provide it to you and to me. Life in Christ - real life, the losing of this life for the gaining of his - is the powerful antidote that stands ready to respond to the discouragement and disillusionment created by the age of self"
As we root ourselves in Christ, we will find that lasting joy that our heart longs for. The pursuit of it in any other way, will always lead to disappointment. This is a great read for women who are looking for joy, and for those who serve others. As we lead with a greater awareness of where we find our identity, we are better able to discern and reflect on how the grace of God is bestowed on us every day.
How is your joy these days?
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy of this book and the opportunity to post an honest review!