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Faith Column: On Living a Life of Joy

A beautiful two-story house is nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac on a private, wooded lot. The house has a grand foyer entrance, four bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, an attached three-car garage and a beautifully manicured lawn. It is absolutely breathtaking to see.

On the outside, it appears to be the perfect place to call home. But a closer look and a peek through the windows reveals a completely different story. The “perfect” house on the outside is in ruins inside. The floors are scratched. The walls have holes. Mold is growing everywhere. This home that looks so beautiful has actually been condemned and is scheduled to be demolished.

It is true that appearances don’t always tell the true story. As a dear friend used to say, “Everything that sparkles isn’t gold.”

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of us. We look good on the outside but we are all messed up on the inside. We appear to have everything going for us, yet we are crumbling and falling apart inside. We get into the awful habit of hiding our real feelings, thinking they are suppressed. In actuality, those feelings reveal themselves in our words, in our actions and in how we treat ourselves and others.

A few examples:

  • The young woman who pretends to her family and friends that she is OK being single, while secretly she yearns to be married. As her friends get engaged and married, she appears happy on the outside, but inwardly her hope for that “happily ever after” is slowly fading away.
  • The young man who is about to become a father, but isn’t really ready for the responsibility. On the outside, he is going along with the preparations for the new baby, but on the inside he is full of fear and anxiety. Eventually, he abandons his responsibility rather than expressing his true feelings, and is labeled a dead-beat dad.
  • Then, there’s the couple who appears happily married, yet behind closed doors, they are living in a loveless relationship. As soon as their children are on their own, they end up in an bitter divorce, leaving outsiders to wonder what happened because they appeared to be the perfect couple.

We become no different than the condemned house looking good on the outside, yet crumbling on the inside, when we put on a good face to hide our true feelings. We don’t have to keep living that reality. We are called to live a life full of joy, hope and peace in spite of our circumstances, but we have to be willing to do something different.

We have to be willing to trust beyond ourselves. We have to be willing to let go of the past, set aside our hurt feelings and disappointments, and yes, we have to be willing to look in the mirror.

Life is too short to spend it like the condemned house scheduled for demolition.

Maybe we should seek instead to demolish those things that keep us from living an abundant life — things like old patterns of thought and old habits that stand in our way. Demolish those things that stand in the way of living the abundant life God promises. A life that is full of love, joy, hope and peace.

Life started to change for me as I developed a closer relationship with God. As my faith grew stronger, the real me started to rise to the surface and the old me fell by the wayside. There is a scripture that says “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”

The more I found my true identity in Christ, the more abundant life I experienced. When life starts to become overwhelming and you find yourself wanting to run away – turn to God. This is the only answer I know. I have tried it and it really does work.

~ By Natalie Rudd, a member of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax.

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