The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy.Proverbs 14:10
There’s so much to life that we don’t understand.
Yet, we make of it what we can. We experience and go through so much, and often can’t connect with others. The verse above says it well, and we rarely come across someone who can understand us fully, and even then it’s not all the way. Not only so, but we can’t always fully understand other people either.
We get upset with others and ourselves, yet the only way to get peace is through Christ. Because He can fully understand us and others.
Therefore, each of us can turn to Him for our joys and sufferings.
He knows it all. He sees. He feels.
But we forget that and focus on ourselves. We get upset and feel attacked.
When will it end?
When can I start again?
We live in a broken world, and that’s the thing. The world will keep on doing what it knows best. And you either learn how to brace yourself when life hits you, and get stronger with each blow, or you crumble and let yourself break with it, too.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.2 Timothy 1:7
In this post, I want to share 3 simple revelations I learned when experiencing trials and triumphs at the same time:
- Practice Gratitude
- Renew Your Mind
- Celebrate Wins
You can be fearful of all that comes your way, but if you implement the power and love within you and practice self-disciple, practice sound-mindedness, you will overcome and get stronger when opposing emotions arise in your life.
Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Colossians 2:6-7
There are days when you feel you can’t move forward from certain situations or seasons. You ponder and worry and linger on your problems like it’s the end of the world. And before you know it, you hear yourself complaining and dwelling on the problems around you and then eventually, within you.
We tend to fret in high-stress situations, especially when we get a breather for a moment, because it’s all that’s on our mind. But as cliche as it sounds, being grateful helps. When you complain, you remind yourself of the problem and convince yourself that it’s as bad as it sounds. But through gratitude, you elevate yourself above the situation and train yourself to look for the light no matter how dark it gets.
Because that’s the truth, life gets dark. And if you let it in, all will seem dark. But by practicing gratitude, you cultivate that light which God put inside of you.
Apostle Paul wrote to the churches and exhorted each one to give thanks no matter what, to practice gratitude, because he knew that life gets dark. Trials will come either way, so the best way to set yourself up is by giving thanks.
There were situations this year in particular where I found myself complaining a lot. Unfortunately, my husband got the earful. But to my luck, he encouraged me and set an example by sharing a simple, daily practice to implement gratitude.
Simply write 3 things you’re grateful for every evening or morning. It can be heartfelt and inspiring or something to make you chuckle. Then at the end of your week, look back through your journal and review.
For example, today I wrote: 1) Autumn 2) Sweaters 3) Ability to play piano.
Renew Your Mind
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:5
We grew up in a broken world and it taught us everything we know. Some good, some unhealthy, and it’s on us to unlearn what doesn’t benefit us. Bad things will happen anyway, but your response will determine what’s behind your heart. If you get easily stressed out and anxious, you can unlearn this habitual feeling and train yourself to get calm and find peace.
Earlier this month, I developed two rash-spots on my neck, and my brother asked me what those were. I said I honestly didn’t know because my diet didn’t change and I was getting enough sleep. To which he replied it could be from stress. After a quick thought-inventory, I realized I was anxious about a family situation that was going on. I realized I was tense and stressed.
That same day, every time I had anxious thoughts come my way, I would dwell on the opposite and even tell myself out loud to think about what was true, and lovely, and pure, (Phil. 4:8-9). By the next evening, the rash dissipated.
Your body responds to what you think about. When you get anxious or stressed, your nervous system responds and releases a flood of stress-hormones which sends signals throughout your body that there’s an emergency. And after each time, your body gets worn out and tired, which eventually affects your sleep, ability to focus at work or on projects, and other areas of your life. But if you take your thoughts captive and renew your mind, you’ll get transformation (Romans 12:2).
Throughout the New Testament, you’ll find encouragement to take your thoughts captive, to set your mind on things above, and to rejoice in God despite any despair. Ultimately, He gives us peace beyond understanding (Phil. 4:7). The kind of peace that keeps you grounded and has people asking, “but isn’t this going on in your life? How are you so calm?”
Take every thought captive by thinking of God’s promises, positive things, hopeful things, and look for the light in situations. The world is already dark enough; we need to get more lit.
He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed.Psalm 18:50 (read full chapter).
This one seems similar to gratitude and mind renewal, and it is. But it’s another concept that I’ve practiced as much if not more than the other two. There were several significant moments this year when I lamented to my husband that I was behind in my writing (blog and book). He asked me where I was progressing, winning.
It was hard to answer at first but I dug deep and realized how many people I affected on a weekly basis. Through my blog, social media, texting, and praying. I jotted down the numbers and got instantly lifted. It was as simple as that!
About a week later, one of my leaders at church offered to mentor me as I write my book, in which they have a lot of experience in (coaching authors and editing books). Along with that, I noted every time a friend reached out to provide feedback and how helpful my posts have been for them. The more wins I wrote, the more motivated I was to pursue my dreams despite any present difficulties with family.
I think this was David’s purpose in writing Psalms. He often started out depressed but ended in triumph or praise (Psalm 18 is an outstanding example). Feeling hopeless, he set himself up to be hopeful, because God would look at him and shine His light on David.
When you celebrate every single win, you set yourself up for the bigger celebrations. As simple as waking up and taking a deep breath, the ability to drink water, go to the bathroom, WALK and talk, etc. Break it down and make it easy. Then, build from there and you’ll have hope in your every day.
To practice celebrating wins, write 2-3 simple wins from today and “plan your wins for tomorrow.” For example, if there’s something you want to get done, write it down like it’s done. Get excited and share this with a trustworthy friend.
Throughout the year, I noticed a common theme of opposing emotions. When something good happened, a tragedy would come shortly after. With gladness, there was grief; with joy, sorrow; with wholeness, suffering; with peace, turmoil. And I can’t help but think that this was Paul’s message to the churches:
Letter after letter, he talked about the dual experience of opposing circumstances and emotions. And it helps you realize that life isn’t always going to be a mountain-top or valley-low experience. Sometimes it’s nothing equivalent to this metaphor we so often use.
Quite differently, life is more like a railroad, as my mentor shared. Both lanes of the track are necessary for the train to ride properly. The two lanes represent the good and the bad. You get sorrow and joy, triumph and trials, gladness and grief, peace and turmoil. But the railroad ties in between is how you support yourself:
- Practice Gratitude – get peace in turmoil
- Renew Your Mind – change and train the way you think
- Celebrate Wins – move forward in your dreams, desires, and goals
With these 3 things, you train yourself to turn to God in all of your circumstances. Triumphs or trials, He gives peace beyond understanding and helps us walk through all opposing emotions. He gives us wisdom and truth on what to think about. And He gives us the courage and motivation to move forward as we celebrate our wins and praise Him.
If you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments and click here for more 🙂