It was a seemingly normal day, considering the move we were in the middle of. Boxes everywhere, counters covered with all the stuff needing to be organized, and laundry continuing to pile up because even though we were moving, my people still needed clean clothes.

Suddenly, in a toddler meltdown moment, the mood changed. I snapped. I spoke to my daughter in a way pre-parenthood-me proudly proclaimed she would never do.

She wasn’t listening, I was tired. She had an attitude, I needed coffee. And we all needed to take a deep breath.

As a family, we were in the middle of month eight of life changes and transition. I felt tired, defeated, and ready to come up for air. The heavy feeling of failure sat on my chest like a ton of bricks and made it hard to breathe.

I apologized, we hugged and shared giggles, then she went on about her day.

The feeling of that moment stuck with me through the afternoon. Later, I took a step back and realized that feeling, one of exhaustion and defeat, had been hanging around me every single day over the past few weeks.

I was caught in a cycle of frustration and fear, exhaustion and overwhelm, living in a world full of unknowns. I let these feelings win and take hold of my mood, response, conversation, and day-to-day life.

I chose not to pay attention to it.

I was walking through a difficult season. Not because of a terrible circumstance, but simply because the enemy was winning in my heart.

I believed lies about my worth and value and was reminded daily my strength was not enough. He had taken my fears, failures, and exhaustion and found a place to sit and hang.

We have all been there.

Tired. Worn down. Your mind is foggy, and you just can’t think straight. Your to-do list keeps on growing no matter how many things you cross off. You feel like you are walking in circles, yet still accomplishing nothing. You feel happy one minute and sad the next. You feel busy all the time. No one quite understands exactly what you’re walking through. This emotional roller coaster you find yourself on feels heavy and lonely.

There are days (or weeks) you just don’t quite feel like yourself. Maybe you’re a little extra irritable, you can’t force a good mood even if you tried, and every person you come in contact with is out to get you. Is it your hormones? Is it the enemy creeping in as he does so well? Maybe it is the wear and tear of life, motherhood, work, relationships, health, and all the directions you find yourself being pulled.

The remedy to the feeling is the popular truth you know in your mind but can’t grasp in your heart: choose joy.

Choose joy. It sounds great, but it’s just not that easy.

Once again, you’re left feeling inadequate for not being able to stand up and put your happy face on as others seem to do so well. Choosing joy just feels complicated.

Choosing joy doesn’t mean our emotions will instantly follow; it simply means allowing Jesus’ presence to provide a quiet peace within our hearts.

Our emotions are a gift from God. We feel deeply and that’s what makes us who we are. However, these emotions should not determine our actions. How we feel is inconsistent and circumstantial. BUT God’s truth is unchanging and sovereign.

True emotion and a holy joy can co-exist. How refreshing it is to be reminded even when we don’t have it all together, Jesus will walk us through it.

Choosing joy means surrender, and surrender is hard.

To be willing to choose joy means I must be willing to lay my life down at the cross. It means letting go of my situation and emotions, my desires and wants. Not because I can’t have it my way, but because Jesus has a better way.

I need to choose joy because that’s the heart of who Christ is, and I want to be more like Him.

In those moments where I feel like choosing joy is cliché because it is the tagline for all the things, I must choose it anyway.

I need to choose it because it is the truth.

As you spend time looking through scripture and the life of Christ, you will quickly see a recurring theme: joy. Through the heartache and trials, the good and the bad, the celebration and decisions. There it is, joy. It jumps off the pages and comes alive deep within you. It stirs something inside you that you don’t want to let go.

Some days it feels easy, some days it is a choice.

Regardless, to draw near to Christ will bring an unspeakable joy beyond life’s circumstances.

It is a joy that comes with sorrow and pain, blessing and celebration, hurt, new seasons, and transition. It is a joy that can be found in all the ups, downs, and unknowns that come our way. It is a joy I don’t want to miss out on.

Whatever life circumstances surround you today, give yourself permission to look past the cliché and choose joy. The outcome will always be worth it.

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I Didn’t Enjoy Every Moment, But I Loved the Season

I Don’t Want to Raise Church Kids, I Want to Raise Jesus Kids

When Faith Feels Like Going Through the Motions

Leslie Lucadou

I am a seminary graduate + food lover learning to daily surrender my life to Christ. I have a deep passion for scripture and sharing God's word with others, and my second love is food. I love the way it simply brings people together. My health + physical brokenness has shown me the value in stewarding my body well so I can bring glory to the Lord each day. I never thought that my love for food + scripture would weave its way in such an incredible story of God's grace.