What is Your When Then?

In our performance driven world, even as Christian women who love the Lord, often we put aside our joy until we feel we’ve earned the right to have it. Amanda is tired every day. Tired of potty training. Tired of taking little Ethan back and forth to the toilet, especially for false alarms. “It seems like that’s all I do all day long,” says Amanda, “but when I get him potty trained, then I’ll relax and enjoy life again.” Amanda is too focused on her issue to realize it now, but she’s too stressed to be happy.

Debbie is dealing with an entirely different issue. Struggling to balance her career, family and the responsibilities of taking care of her aging mother, her only pleasurable indulgence is her nightly ritual of hot fudge and ice cream. “After everyone’s in bed, it’s the only time I have to completely unwind,” says Debbie. “That’s when I remind myself, it won’t always be like this. Someday, I’ll get my life back.” Debbie feels guilty for being happy for too long. As soon as the ice cream melts, it’s time to get back to reality.

Courtney is goal driven. Propelled by her vision to build her business, she won’t allow herself an opportunity to rest until she reaches her goal. Her determination to build her future leaves no room for distractions. To her, rejuvenation is a time waster. She’s driven by a vision void of joy. “When I reach my goal, then I’ll celebrate big time. But now…it’s time to build.”

So how would you answer this question? When I finally _____________, then I’ll be happy.

It’s a cruel deception. Achieving your goal is not the thing that should bring happiness. It’s the journey and opportunity itself. Let me encourage you. Don’t put off your joy! Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. How can we accomplish anything without strength? The enemy has twisted the truth. So many of us believe that we don’t deserve to be happy until we reach our goal, but here’s the truth: Joy is not the prize for reaching your goal, it’s the power to get there!

So quit saying when I finally whip my marriage, my kids or my body in shape, then I’ll be joyful. Embrace the strength of God and walk in joy today!

Prayer: Dear Lord, I realize how much I’ve deprived myself of the joy I need to live my life. Please forgive me for all the times I’ve tried to do things in my own strength. Help me to receive all your joy and power so I can walk each day in your strength. In Christ’s name. Amen

Want to win a free copy of Chicken Soup’s latest release, Messages from Heaven? Simply post a comment below. You can answer the question about what tends to be your “when-then” or simply make any other comment. I’ll pick the winner Monday, March 26, 2012. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.

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23 Responses to What is Your When Then?

  1. Yolanda K Russell March 20, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Having a vision for what you want is not enough! Vision without execution is hallucination” -Edison

    Don’t become so consumed while making a living that you forget to make a life. Work hard.. Play harder..

    The statements along with your lesson have given me new encouragement. With my son and four foster children it seems hard to find time to do what I like or love. Before it was “when my son gets in elementary school” then it was “when the 2nd foster child gets to elementary” now I have two more foster children and the youngest has two more years before elementary. *sigh* So previously reading the statements above, then getting your lesson via email was definitely an eye opener.

    Too stressed to be happy is a very familiar term and it took NOT reaching my goal to send me into a depression. Believe me, its a place I don’t ever want to go back too. Just as you said Christy, the enemy does twist the truth and if you feel you haven’t reached a goal and have failed…..Well, I don’t want to think like that any more. I now have NEW POWER and I WILL WALK IN JOY EVERYDAY, See you at the next class!!

  2. cameo March 20, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I used to think this very way constantly. I have a two year old who will be three next month. It took me two years to realize that I was missing out on right now. If I could get through this week then i can rest, if I could get her off formula then i can save money. All this did was keep.me busy and always preoccupied. I never enjoyed the stage we were in. It wasn’t until one day my two year old asked me to do a puzzle with her and my response was hold on baby when mommy finishes cleaning the kitchen then i can play with you that i realized I was creating a never ending cycle. I decided I was going to start spending time enjoying each stage of completion before I started the beginning of the next. It has put things on hold and it has extended other plans but it has slowed me down and made me stop and smell the roses.

  3. sarah leslie March 20, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks so much for this timely reminder. I always seem to put aside my own life and joy for the sake of various projects. I feel guilty when I follow my dreams, thinking I’m neglecting my ever growing list of responsibilities. I crave the strength that comes from joy, its been so long! Never too late to begin again, this time with the right perspective! Thanks for the encouragement =)

  4. Sharon March 20, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you for this powerful reminder!

  5. Diane March 20, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    It is sometimes hard to remember it is all in God’s time. I am striving to learn to be content in whatever season of life I am in at the time and look for what God is trying to teach me rather than what I can do to make the situation better, attain my goals etc…

  6. Judy March 20, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Over two years ago God finally got thru to me & I started enjoying and celebrating my life. Things were not “in order” as the world sees for me to do this; however I have found that God indeed is our source and He has taken care of us. The joy and excitement I have experienced since are beyond words. My biggest issue now is feeling guilty for having so much fun. I enjoy my husband, family, friends and life so much more! Friends tell me I look younger ( that’s a real plus hehe!!) and I feel wonderful. My relationship with God has grown & He is using me to help others in ways I never dreamed. I do wish I had listened sooner!! Thanks Christy for encouraging us! You have a great gift & God has great plans for you!!!! Congratulations on your publishings!!!!

  7. Beth March 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    My “When…then” scenario seemed to change with each decade of my life. Always happy, but always wanting “more”. Jesus is all we need at whatever stage of our life we are in. Inner Joy can only be found from above. Thanks, and God bless you abundantly!

  8. Joni March 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Congratulations Christy!!! I am so proud for you! YOU GO GIRL! ~ Love, Joni

  9. Lisa Kopf March 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    I think like this all the time. I have no time for relaxing or enjoying life this moment. As a single mother, working and going to school, with a 16 and a 13 year old, I feel like there are way too many other thing that come before my happiness. When I finish school and when I get a job that will pay the bills, support my family and can put away some money THEN and only then will I be able to truly enjoy life. Right now my finances depress me. I look around and see everyone with cleaner houses and a savings account and think, ” soon Lisa, you will be able to get it together again” but will it ever happen?

  10. Kara Burch March 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Ahh, that was a much needed prayer!! There are so many times when I think I’M strong enough and that I ALONE can do it all. Reading this reminds me that I need to let go and give these issues to God. Thank you so much for those words! Congratulations on Chicken Soup and your upcoming book!!

  11. Ginny Jenkins March 21, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I could identify and relate most to Debbie’s situation and how she feels about being able to finally unwind at the end of the day when everyone is in bed and she is by herself. I love to talk to or to read about someone else that feels the same way and has a similar situation because then I feel better and am reassured that I am not alone in my situation. There have been several people lately that God has led me in contact with in this way After reading your comments, I do want to focus more on the fact that The joy of the LORD is my strength NOW, not just when I get a different situation and someone to encourage me more in my goals and dreams. Thank you. Congratulations on Chicken Soup for the Soul. I will look forward to reading it sometime. GinnyI

  12. Kerri Pemberton March 21, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    After divorce, I truly thought that once I found “THE ONE” things would all be wonderful! Well it has been 12 years, and he still has not ridden in on that white horse to sweep me off my feet! A dear friend told me that she truly believed that God wanted me to raise my children first and then true love would come. Well my babies are grown now, but God had something different in mind. He led me to foster care and now adoption. I am the proud single mother to two beautiful and amazing little girls that are absolute gifts in my life! I have to admit that I still struggle with the WHEN “God places an amazing christian man in OUR lives” THEN “all will be perfect!” But I know so well that God has a perfect plan for my life and I will choose to trust Him daily!

    Thank you, Christy, for what you do! And congratulations!!!!!


  13. Magan March 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I have struggled with this through different seasons of my life. When I find “the one” then I will be happy……when I get in shape then I can enjoy life and feel good……when I save enough money then I will feel secure and happy…..when I finish decorating my house then I can enjoy it and have people over. The list could go on and on. I have learned that it is great to be driven and have goals, but you can miss out on the gift of today given to us by God if we spend our time wishing for the next phase to come. Looking for things to be thankful for is every situation can help us cultivate joy. Congrats on your book, may God continue to show you and your ministry favor!

  14. Janie Justice March 23, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    I can’t really think of anything….I just enjoy each day as it comes.

  15. Beverly Busby March 23, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Hi well i can’t really think of much to say for one i’m not good at words but i will say i try everyday to according to God’s word and obey the rules and i put God first in everyday routines. Without my God where would i be i’ve made many mistakes in my lifetime but God has pulled me through so i give all the praise, glory and honor to him, and keep praying one day i will see him face to face.So i pray i win a book as well. Have a blessed day. Continue the great ministry in Gods work!!!!!!

  16. Shelley March 23, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Thank you, Christy, for always bringing the words that I need. I enjoy your blog so much and it has helped me in my life many times.

  17. Cara Cawthon March 24, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    Christy, AS USUAL what I just read on your blog is EXACTLY what God intended for me to hear today!! My precious daughter, Alyssa, is scheduled for bi-lateral mastectomy surgery this coming week, and I feel like my life, joy, smile, happiness, steadfastness, faith, etc. has actually been put “on hold”!! Having gone through the same round of surgeries 17 years ago, my heart is so heavy for what I know she is facing. The physical pain, the mental pain, the social stigma/acceptance that she’ll face, the body altering adjusting she will have to do… its all a nighmare that a mother would NEVER want her child to go through! As a single mother, I feel there are a million and one things that I need to get “done” before we check in on thursday morning. I’m obviously overwhelmed!!! (as you are aware, her father is not present in her life and is actually on his way to prison!!!) I have many wonderful friends and family of support, and most importantly my saviour Jesus Christ, but I have felt so alone, just simply totally alone in this. I want to do whatever I can to ease her pain and provide her comfort, but as much as I desire to do this, I simply can’t. Its her battle to face, her jorney to walk. Just as your children’s journies have been their own, but you always show that amazing support, love and faith for them and for all others to see. I want Alyssa to see Jesus in me right now!! As I’m tossing and turning tonight, just wanting some comfort for myself, our incredible Lord directed me to your blog. I have read the words, viewed the pictures and literally cried like a baby!! Your story / blogs/pics, etc have been a sweet, blessed reminder that life is short and that God is good. It has helped me remember that what she is about to do at 20 years old is to SAVE HER LIFE!!! So that we can have many more tomorrows. Something I need to cherrish TODAY and not wait until my “then” is over. I keep thinking that as soon as this surgery is over, or the reconstruction process, or the next surgery and the next etc well THEN I can settle down and find my joy again. NO, NO, NO my JOY is NOW. Thank you for your willingness to boldly share with us and to remind us that God wants us to walk in His joy every single day regardless of what we are facing! As much as I know that when I am this overwhelmed, it seems I revert back to just being super busy in trying to get everything done instead of slowing down and seeing what is the most important – you know Mary and Martha??? AND….. as I was reading the captions with your photos, and slowly starting to crawl out of the miry clay, I ran accross the name Boe Parrish!!! Boe is the gentleman who LED ME TO THE LORD on June 3, 1987!!!!!! (We worked together after I graduated from college). I haven’t thought of him in years, and there his name was in black and white – I was instantly transported back to that day, and what could possibly be a more clear picture of what is absolutely the most important, JESUS!! Thank you again, you just don’t know how God has used you and continues to use you in my life. Please remember to pray for my sweet, precious, fearfully and wonderfuly made 20 year old baby girl:)

  18. Lori March 24, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Love your blogs/love how God speaks through you…AlSO Sooo proud of you Christy for your perserverance and LOVE watching God bless your faithfulness!

  19. Summer Gerhardus March 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Lately my when has been when I am not so busy with coaching, teaching, & kids ….then I will be calmer & enjoy my days more:(

  20. Yolanda K Russell March 27, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    I think my name is on Cameo’s post….this is actually what I said…
    “The statements along with your lesson have given me new encouragement. With my son and four foster children it seems hard to find time to do what I like or love. Before it was “when my son gets in elementary school” then it was “when the 2nd foster child gets to elementary” now I have two more foster children and the youngest has two more years before elementary. *sigh* So previously reading the statements above, then getting your lesson via email was definitely an eye opener.

    Too stressed to be happy is a very familiar term and it took NOT reaching my goal to send me into a depression. Believe me, its a place I don’t ever want to go back too. Just as you said Christy, the enemy does twist the truth and if you feel you haven’t reached a goal and have failed…..Well, I don’t want to think like that any more. I now have NEW POWER and I WILL WALK IN JOY EVERYDAY, See you at the next class!!

  21. LaVila March 29, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Your article reminded me of our friend, Bill. He was always totally up to his neckline in “busy.” He was often too busy to do anything fun. One day we asked him if he would ever have everything done. After thinking about it, he said he wouldn’t. Through that I think we made him realize that he needed to take time for enjoyable things in the midst of his busy life. Every once in a while I have to remind myself of our advice to Bill. It is too easy to get so engrossed in hitting the next goal or deadline that we forget to smell the roses. Great and timely article. Thanks for all you are doing for the Kingdom. We love you, girl.

  22. Teresa April 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    There is no question about it; I am a goal oriented person and if there is no real goal, I create one. Lately, I have been changing in this area but overall I think I have never been comfortable with relaxing. I don’t “shop ‘til I drop”, I don’t “eat the cookie and buy the shoes”, in fact I rarely do anything with the girls. Actually, I don’t even have girls I hang with. I not very good, okay that’s a stretch, with rare exception I am no good at fun.

    My mother was the Valedictorian of her high school class and top notch in business college. As far back as I can remember she was going to go back to school for music. Mom was born with much gifting and talent in music. She played the piano without ever having a lesson, she read music and played accurately. All through my high school years she was going to go to a university nearby that had an excellent music program. She would say, “WHEN I retire, THEN I will go to school for music. She did take organ lessons when I was in my 40’s from a well known and accomplished organ teacher. That teacher told her she should start playing for local funeral homes and weddings. 1994 Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. By 2001 the disease had become a major obstacle in her having decent use of her hands and feet. She would practice the organ to help with dexterity and control of her hands and feet, but the accuracy in playing was not there. She retired that year. In 2005 Mom died with the music in her. She never took a class. She was going to take painting classes. She took one but the disease made it impossible for her to hold a brush well. She had art in her just like the music, and it died in her unexpressed. Mom worked in an office an though she was a faithful and commemorated government employee, she was frustrated and bored most of her life, just waiting to retire so she could live.

    I remember thinking I would not let that happen to me. God has a call on my life and I am taking steps to actualize it, but my job gets in the way. A job I might add I do not like and frustrates and bores me. I sit at my desk all day, everyday, thinking about that call on my life and how I will step out in that when I am done with school and can quit my job. Lately, I have become so restless about wasting my life at a desk when there are things I should be and want to be doing.

    I agree: Please forgive me for all the times I’ve tried to do things in my own strength. Help me to receive all your joy and power so I can walk each day in your strength. In Christ’s name. Amen

    Joy is not the prize for reaching your goal, it’s the power to get there! How true!!! I had never thought of this in the way that made me repentant of trying to do life my way and on my own. I am sorry for that and have made a decision, a quality decision to actualize that call on my life in God’s strength and Jesus’ name, NOW.

  23. Karen August 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    This post was from 2012 and it’s now 2015 and God decided it was time for me to read this! Oh His timing is so perfect. I’m typing knowing probably no one will ever see this but that’s OK because I know God will and I need to write about how this article/blog has had such an impact on my life. The first time I read it , it made me extremely angry! I thought this woman has no clue about the devastation some people are living in like myself. But now God has humbled and broken my heart and I can see His Truth clearly through your writing.
    See, I’ve been married for 33 years. On January 7th 2009 my world came crashing down all around me as I slowly found out that my “faithful, loving, godly husband” was a Sex Addict and I had no clue, no warning signs, no red flags to prepare me for the Journey that laid before me. We had a disclosure with our therapist who is very well known for his work in the sex addiction field. But my husband chose to “dribble” out bits and pieces of devastating, heart piercing information for over 2 years. Finally at 3 years into our recovery he had admitted to having sex with 21 prostitutes at massage parlors, going to multiple strip clubs, lingerie parlors, having 2 affairs one with my “best friend” and was addicted to porn. I couldn’t have ever imagined living through this Trauma and ever being Joyful and at Peace again. There’s so much to our story I’d love to share but just not enough space and time. But it has been the biggest life changing thing that I could not have ever imagined happening to US. We’ve been on this Journey from Betrayal for 6 years now and I can tell you NOW that it is so true what you have written. God never intended for me to wait until my husband became Faithful to find Joy and Happiness in Christ. It truly has been about finding Joy THROUGH this treacherous Journey of up’s and down’s. I never would have thought I would be a woman who would ever stay married to a man who could have done all the horrific things my husband has done but GOD had a different plan. One I fought for a long time as I just wanted to walk out.
    But today 6 years later we are both different people in the Lord. Our marriage is one I can’t even begin to explain. We have grown closer to each other and closer and more in Love with the Lord than I ever dreamed of. Oh we still have our hard times that we have to talk through together to get to the other side but when I stopped waiting for him to “get over” his lusting and started being Joyful despite my circumstances that’s when God really did a miracle in us and our marriage. I was blessed that my husband was humbly broken and repentant before the Lord and has remained that way throughout our Journey. He is an amazing man of God that I could NOT imagine doing life without him beside me. But this Journey hasn’t been just about his recovery it’s also been about God doing some mighty work in my own life and heart. So Thank you for this article of TRUTH from GOD’S WORD. We all can find JOY and HAPPINESS and PEACE even during the storms that rage in our lives. A word of HOPE: this week-end my husband and I are going away just the 2 of us to have a spiritual retreat! I am so excited to see how God is going to work as we study His Word together and Pray. Remember Patsy Clairmonts book? Happiness is a choice so stick a Geranium in your hat and be Happy. Choose today whom you shall share your Joy with. I choose to share my Joy with the Lord. My husband and I have a saying “NO MATTTER WHAT” So No Matter What today where ever you’re at and what ever you’re going through Lean in on Jesus and He will fill your heart to overflowing with His Joy. A Joy nothing or no one will ever be able to fill! Many blessings and prayers to you all.

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