Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.—Psalm 51:12
As a new believer, these words were part of a song I learned in college. This song came to mind many times last fall and winter. I had lost all sense of get-to. Everything felt too hard and like a have-to. There was minimal joy.
Partially my low low was physical. But partially it was a cumulative weariness, born from sucking it up for too long. I needed God to restore to me the joy of my salvation.
Much of my life has been spent doing things out of obligation and guilt. Such is the curse of a chronic people pleaser. I can be hypersensitive to disappointment and go to great lengths to avoid being the (perceived) cause of someone experiencing it.
Of course this mindset and lifestyle are not sustainable. But I have given it a good go. The costs were many. One of the casualties was joy.
I know we mustn’t go through life only doing what we want whenever we feel like doing it. I know the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). I know that sometimes in simply obeying God, joy may inexplicably follow.
But I also know that too much have-to makes Julie a crazy lady.
And really when I say “have-to” I mean the have-tos that come from people and from within ourselves. I mean the ones that are more about seeking the approval of others or trying to will ourselves into being the infinite (and never tiring) God rather than resting in the finished verdict of who God says we are: His.
I recently read somewhere, “If you can’t say no, then you can’t really say yes.” I think that is true. I certainly don’t think it was always the Holy Spirit that was telling me to say yes. I am becoming more honest in my yeses because I am learning to become more honest in my nos, as I listen for God’s direction.
I have an audience of One, and He is the Lord of all. It is what He says that is true and what I need to listen to and respond to. He turns a slave into a child and duty into choice. He restores the joy of my salvation and upholds me with a willing spirit.
Julie Serven craves shalom for people and places. She enjoys editing, helping people with literacy skills, hearing people’s stories, exploring all things OKC, yoga, NPR, and spending time with her ultracool family.