by Emily Conrad

I have an entire room in my house that went unused for the first four months we lived here: the living room.

Water had damaged the ceiling of the room, so we had to fix the cause, then fix the damage, then paint the walls. Other, less intimidating projects took precedence.

It’s funny that we didn’t live in the living room. It’s tragic that something similar happens in my faith sometimes.

Jesus said he gave his peace to us, and his Word says we can have joy no matter what happens. As Christians, peace and joy are meant to be our living room, but how often do we rest there? They are an integral part of our faith homes. We pass them regularly or stop in sometimes, but are we living in them?

2016 has been a big year for me. Despite all the good events, I began to notice fear and worry taking up way too much of my mental space.

I wasn’t living in the living room of peace and joy, and even when I realized it, I couldn’t remember how to reopen the door.

This is what happens when we let too much of our focus be on performance instead of on God, when we act like we believe in the Jesus who asks everything of us and neglect the Jesus who gave everything for us.

If we read rules and commandments and stand with our backs pressed against them, a pencil pressing the top of our heads, making a mark, we will step away and see we’re wanting. Always wanting.

So when he blessed me, I was blind to it. I chose not to look beyond my own failures and hurts and I focused on the negative. I stood at the threshold of the living room, wanting to enter, but my feet seemed glued to the floor outside.
Looking back now, I can see that it was my own choice that kept me from the comfort of peace and joy.

All those things I was trying to earn—approval, security, joy—Jesus gave me long ago.

For me, to enter the living space provided by my Savior, I had to set aside certain projects for a little while. I took slow time to rediscover the love and peace I’d held at arm’s length. In the quiet days, he used other bloggers and friends, his word, books and sunshine and flowers and the joy of caring for gifts he’s given me to draw me into the living room.

If you find yourself outside the living room of peace and joy, take the time to study that with God. Sit with him. Put projects on the back burner. Read. Journal. Pray. Rediscover. Because we’re not called to a life of fear or helplessness or worry or loneliness.

We’re given life abundant, safe, and free. We’re invited to live in peace and joy.

What verses, books, or relationships remind you of the riches you have in Jesus at times when you’re beginning to forget? How do you learn to live in peace and joy?

Peace and joy are meant to be our living room as followers of Christ – via @novelwritergirl