To Find Joy, Risk Your Settled Life

Joy isn’t complicated or mystical. You don’t need a lecture to understand it. This is joy: It bubbles up out of you effortlessly on regular occasions. It settles around you like a breeze. It’s a deep breath of satisfaction and energy that pushes you upwards, forwards.

Have you felt that recently? Lassoing the experience of joy with mere words is nearly impossible. Deep joy encapsulates a moment and freezes it forever with unique clarity.

Timeout: take a minute right now to recall the last time you were truly lit up with joy. Where were you, who was beside you, and how did it feel?

Our society has a shortage of people deeply satisfied with their life. Many settle into a comfortable life, one that seems to work okay, but not one that regularly takes their breath away. Their ability to dream and to take a fresh risk is frozen. Just keeping up is a full-time job that keeps them from looking ahead.

Risking a Settled Life

Five years ago, Steve and I were busy in our church and with our jobs — doing everything right and waiting for it to pay off. And yet, life stretched in front of us in a monotonous stream. Gazing into our future no longer summoned up excitement as it once did.

We lived a predictable life, though secretly we were born adventurers. Our kids, Adrienne and Addison, were getting old enough to embrace opportunities with us, if only we took the time to dream them up.

Acknowledging our longing for more was scary. It brought us to a crossroad where we asked questions that felt risky: Why are we bored? Is it okay that our life pattern, while good enough for everyone else, no longer fits us? Can we put our family first and still please God? Can we leave a faith community that makes us all feel like square pegs? Can we move our business and restart life in another city? Can we make new friends? Can we juggle our budget to travel together frequently? What will happen to us if we step out of the only life we have known as a family?

Worth the Risk

As it turns out, God partners eagerly with us when we ask those kinds of questions. The shake-up actually leads to deeper trust and dependence on Jesus; it leads us out of the realm of what we can do all on our own and deeper into the right blueprint for our lives. Far from being a rigid and exasperated deity, we now know God tailors brilliant opportunities for us.

The last few years have been revolutionary. We moved away from Kansas City to Nashville, and recently again to Pensacola. We have accrued priceless new friendships from our travels across the U.S., people we never would have met if we had stayed put. We even explored the Yucatan and just booked Costa Rica. Our family has grown infinitely closer to one another through every single experience, even the scary ones.

Joy sprouts from the freedom to pursue the unknown, to follow adventure beyond the boundaries of the predictable. Those things we were afraid to let go of look small and simple in the rearview mirror. There is a deep joy to be found by stepping out of your normal and into the undiscovered with Jesus.

Why Not You?

So, when was the last time pure and effortless joy came surging up from the core of your being? Only you know if something is missing. I know it’s worth the risk. Explore your options; shake things up. Partner with God and ask all your scary questions. He wants you to lead a joyful life, and you cannot do it without discovering who He created you to be.

All it takes to unlock a joyful adventure is bravery, trust in God, and the willingness to shake up a settled life. You are not alone!

Written by Melissa Brendtro