Balancing Grief and Joy

Last week, I walked around the Colosseum in Rome taking in its splendor. It was once a place of gathering for entertainment, but now it’s crumbled ruins.

It was beautiful but also sad. Something so beautiful that began to fall apart. A place of entertainment at the cost of people’s and animals’ well- beings and lives.

Life over the past year has felt like that. It has felt beautiful in some ways but slowly chasms opened up and I couldn’t hold it all together anymore. Not letting grief outweigh the joy in my life has always been something I’ve struggled with. The blinders go on when things go poorly even if it’s just a minor incident, and I forget all that is so wonderful about my life.

2022 was just flat out a bad year for me. A lot of hard things happened, and I was mentally in a really poor place. The promise of a fresh start in 2023 felt so exciting, but then things got hard again.

This time it was different though. There were moments of indifference toward God throughout 2022, but I found myself recently realizing so much. Moments of hardship have been sprinkled over the past few months, but I’ve felt a wave of grace crashing over me in a way I didn’t experience last year.

I can’t change some of my circumstances, but I can change my perspective. I’ve been thinking about this verse lately over and over: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34

I am the queen of trying to control my situations leaving no room for God to work or to trust that He is working and doesn’t need me intervening. He needs me to show up and seek Him which I haven’t been great about. I worry about the future and hate not knowing what it will look like or how things will turn out.

My way hasn’t been working. I finally threw my hands up and said, “God, I want to know You more and think of myself less. Help me to do that.”

And just like that, God placed two incredible Bible studies at my feet for me to join. I got more serious about spending daily time with the Lord and talking with Him and finding ways to think and serve others more than myself. It’s easy to get caught up in me, me, me, but I want to serve God and love Him more, and through that love others more too.

I’ve also seen that praise changes everything. Naming off all that I am grateful for and all that is good has shifted something in my heart.

It hasn’t been perfect, but it has completely changed my mindset. Yes, things have been hard, but there will always be hard parts of life. I’ve felt the scales tilting back toward joy instead of sadness. Some days are better than others, but it’s an active choice I get to make about how I want to view my life.

In one of my Bible studies, we’re going through a study in 1 and 2 Chronicles. The other day we were talking about 1 Chronicles 16 where David gives a song of thanks. David’s praise wasn’t about himself, it was about God. His heart was in the right place. My praise has to be centered on God instead of myself.

David had a mindset of abundance instead of scarcity. He named all the ways God had blessed them, not all the ways God could serve them. A lot of times I find my prayers to be about what I want and think I need and don’t take the time to just thank God with no further requests. The thing about praise is it may not change your situation, but it will change your heart.

I feel God setting my heart on fire for Him and blowing out the flame that I lit for myself. It’s humbling; this year has been humbling. But if that’s what it takes for me to know God better I will take that over and over again.

Life is really hard and good and unexpected and heartbreaking and I’m grateful I get to feel fully alive for all of it. No matter the cost. I’ve always felt things so deeply and at times that has been something I’ve hated, but I am thankful that I have the ability to feel everything God has for me. The bad and good.

Thank You Jesus for picking up the pieces of the crumbling colosseum I tried to put together for myself. The difference is, You’ll pick up the pieces and make something better. You won’t leave me to be just ruins. You just have something different in mind.

All for Your glory.


mary spencer

3 thoughts on “Balancing Grief and Joy

  1. Thank you so much your writings are so heart warming! You help me so much! You have such a deep Faith is God and I want to learn more.


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