Once upon a time a girl found herself wandering down a trail as tears ran down her cheeks. It had happened again; she had lost something very dear to her heart and this time her insides felt shattered and bleeding.
Suddenly she stumbled, but she caught herself on a post sticking out of the ground. Sobbing, she looked up at the post. A sign pointed ahead at a bend in the road. The sign said, “Life Is Not Good.” That was the name of the road she walked on, the path she had chosen to tread.
She walked aimlessly down the dark path of “Life Is Not Good.” She expected to find a resigned resolve at the end of the winding trail but, come to find out, the trail never ended—it only spiraled deeper and deeper into despair. When she realized this, she forced her tired feet to stop walking and rubbed her burning eyes.
The path she had chosen wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. So, she sat on a stone, determined not to move forward but likewise unsure of how to go back. Not knowing what else to do, she fell to her knees and wept. She cried for a long, long time. When she finally wiped her eyes and lifted her head, her sight landed on something that had not been there before.
A tall building stood before her, golden light glowing from its many windows. She stepped toward the massive double doors and walked inside. It was a library, a library whose collection’s sheer volume took her breath away. She opened one book, then another, and another. Finally, she found that as she read the words of other grieving and broken people, God Himself entered that library, took her by the hand, and quietly led her back down the trail of “Life Is Not Good” and out of the woods.
That girl was me.
I have since concluded that life isn’t perfect, but it is blessed. Jesus Himself said in John 10:10 that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Christ gives us abundant lives.
You may not feel like your life is very abundant. Maybe your family is struggling financially, so you must cut back on spending so much that you start to feel embarrassed. Maybe you have a parent who is very sick, so you carry the burden of caring for yourself and your siblings. Maybe you feel like everyone who supposedly loved you has forgotten about you. Whatever your situation, I promise you that you’re not alone, and God has still given you an abundant life.
But how do you live a blessed and abundant life, especially when life is not perfect?
Have you ever simply spent a moment taking stock of all that is around you? I mean all of it: from the pretty blouse you wear to the bird that sings in your backyard, from the feel of your fingers running over guitar strings to the smell of barbecuing steak.
As a child, I spent a lot of time bent to notice the little things. I often trailed behind other people, lost in my quiet examination of a butterfly or small rock. I practice such habits even still. You might wish to call me absent-minded, but if you really think about it, I believe present-minded would better describe my state.
This natural bend became an intentional practice recently. Why? A good portion of the blame falls squarely on Joy Clarkson’s book, Aggressively Happy. God gave me this book after He led me from the trail of despair I had spiraled down to teach me how to live a blessed life. In this book Joy writes:
“God has set a feast for us in the world. He invites us to taste His love in every perfect apple pie, to feel our souls brush infinity in the consolation of human love, to be drawn through music into worship. In each generous pleasure, each plucking of the strings of desire in our heart, the Holy Spirit whispers of the new creation to us.”
As I sit down to write this, I have just put homemade bread in the oven. The feeling of the warm, soft dough between my fingers as I kneaded it and the smell of it starting to bake washes me with peace. Simply pausing to enjoy the little things that our Father offers us in life is how we learn to live blessedly.Simply pausing to enjoy the little things that our Father offers us in life is how we learn to live blessedly. Click To Tweet
Live Like It’s True
It’s this sort of living that Paul spoke of when he told the Thessalonians to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
This type of living—content and thankful living—isn’t easy. It takes a lot of practice before it comes naturally, and even then, we will have days and seasons when we struggle to rejoice and give thanks. Times when it feels like life isn’t good again and you wonder if you were just kidding yourself all along. To this, Joy Clarkson says:
“I believe that for all of its darkness, and mundanity, and confusion, life is good, and was made to be good, deep down to its core. I believe being alive is a precious gift, and the greatest crime is to squander it. I believe that there’s a reason to hope. I know I can’t exactly prove these things, but in my experience, life is better when you live like they’re true.”
When you doubt your faith in the existence of a good and powerful God, live like it’s true despite those feelings. When you struggle to believe that you were made with care and purpose, live like it’s true despite those thoughts. When you look out at the world and wonder if it is worth the pain of saving and loving, live like it’s true no matter the cost.
When you live like these desperate hopes are true, you will eventually come to see that they were true all along.
Give the GiftWhen we live like hope and love and beauty and purpose are all true, we show the lost and broken people around us that life is good even though it’s not perfect. Click To Tweet
When we live like hope and love and beauty and purpose are all true, people see those truths in us. Joy writes, “I think the world needs more aggressively happy people, people whose whole will is bent on finding the loveliness of life and giving themselves as a gift to a weary and cynical world.”
When we live “aggressively happy,” as Joy puts it, we show the lost and broken people around us that life is good even though it’s not perfect. When we show courage in our own pain and comfort in the face of other’s pain, we share God’s love.
When we tell a story of beauty and wonder overcoming evil, we share God’s light. When we open our home to lonely souls and show them cheer and good food, we share God’s hope.God has blessed each and every one of us, for our own sake and for the sake of the world around us. Click To Tweet
God has blessed each and every one of us, for our own sake and for the sake of the world around us. Now go and live like it’s true.