No Longer Chained

15. October 2012 05:00



The words were spoken in anger, I knew, but that didn't diminish their sting.  What had begun as a decent conversation had somehow resulted in an argument of mountain-size proportions.  We were both tired.  After all, career and financial struggles can strain any relationship.  We knew this, but we weren't on guard.  Instead, we both settled in for the long haul, determined to have our say and win the other person over with our stunning arguments.  I was stunned, all right.  Not by the tone.  Not by the volume.  But by the words, or to be exact, by the truth of those words--"Well, misery does love company, I guess."

Somewhere along my Christian journey, I had lost my joy.  I don't know when it happened.  I'm not even sure how it happened.  But for the past couple of years especially, I have felt its absence.  Days became drudgeries.  Delights became duties.  As for stress, it seemed to multiply daily.  Little by little, my health slipped away.  Sleepless nights became a constant companion.  In general, I began and ended each day with one question, "Is this all there is?"

It wasn't long before my gloomy mood began to affect my actions and conversations.  I became irritable and discontent.  My words were either mindless chatter to distract myself from the harshness of life or pessimistic views of how unfair life had become.  Try as I might, I could no longer see the sunshine through the clouds.  It was gone, and I was left alone in the darkness, or at least that's how I felt.  When life's conditions didn't improve but instead worsened, I fell deeper into despair.  I felt as if I were sinking in quicksand, and at times, I wondered if I would ever see the dawn again.  I prayed.  I cried.  I read through God's Word, trying desperately to cling to His promises.  But time and again, my efforts only led to disappointment.

The night of the argument, when my husband had spoken of misery, he was referring to me.  And that's exactly how I felt--miserable.  I couldn't blame him if he didn't want to hang around with me.  Half the time, I didn't want to hang around with me.  I knew he was angry and would have never said anything so hurtful in a more rational state.  But I also knew he was speaking the truth.  I had become a miserable person.  I was negative.  I was moody.  My life lacked joy and purpose.  And even though we set things right that evening and apologized for the hurtful things we had said, I couldn't forget his statement.  The truth behind it ate at me.  The thought of driving my husband away was unbearable.  I knew I couldn't exist that way anymore.  It was time for a change.  I had to find the answer, and I did.

As I'm sure you well know, the answer was there in God's Word all along, but I had finally gotten desperate enough that I accepted His Word no matter how much I didn't like it.  During the next few days, the answer God revealed to me was two-fold: (1) I was too hung up on my happiness, and (2) I needed to lose my mind.

Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." For years I interpreted this verse to mean that if I followed the Lord and did His will, He would give me what I wanted.  Well, I wanted to be happy.  And the only way I knew to be happy was to have all the things I wanted:  family, friends, money in the bank, a nice house, a profitable career and so on.  So I served God, not to gain things but with the expectation of gaining them.  But when things didn't work out the way I had planned, I became angry with God and accused Him of not keeping His promises.  "I'm not happy," I complained.  "I don't have what I want.  I don't have what I need.  Every day is a struggle just to make ends meet.  Why don't you do something?  Don't you want me to be happy?"

Well, that's a very good question.  Doesn't God want us, His children, to be happy?  Yes, He does, but even more than that, He wants us to grow in Him and become more like Him.  Sometimes, in order to accomplish His will in our lives, He has to make us unhappy just as a child is unhappy when his parent won't allow Him to eat an entire ice cream sundae before dinner.  Is that parent being cruel?  Of course not.  He's being a good parent by putting his child's true needs before his wants.  God does the same for us, only magnified a hundred fold.  Once I understood this truth and the true meaning in Psalm 37, I realized I needed to decide which was more important to me:  God's will or my own personal happiness.  With that decision made, I had the desire of my heart--to allow God to work His will in me no matter the cost.

Beyond that, the Lord took me to Acts 26 where Paul is standing before Agrippa who will decide Paul's fate.  Up to this point, Paul has been imprisoned numerous times, stoned, beaten and more, yet in verse 2, he tells King Agrippa, "I think myself happy."  I did a double-take.  "What?  Happy? How could you possibly be happy?  Have you lost your mind?"  Actually, yes, he had.  He tells us as much in I Corinthians 2:16 when he says, "but we have the mind of Christ."  The Bible instructs us not to be double-minded, so we can't have our own minds and the mind of Christ.  We must choose.  Paul had made that choice.  He had lost his mind and put on the mind of Christ.  He had died to himself and given complete control of his life to God.  He no longer worried about his own needs and wants.  He had a goal, and as long as he was faithful to that goal, he was happy.  I knew I needed to do the same.  It was time for me to die to my own selfish desires and ambitions and to seek first the kingdom of God.

With those answers in mind, I sat down and made up a goal list.  What did God want to accomplish through me, and what steps did I need to take in order to fulfill His will?  I broke my goals into five categories:  physical, spiritual, mental, emotional and relational.  With a specific goal for each, I then broke each goal into baby steps that I could take each day.  With each step, I am now working toward my goals, and as long as I keep walking in God's will, I will have joy and peace.  I haven't arrived, and I know the journey won't be easy, but I know that no matter how dark it seems, the Son is always shining in my life.  He will never leave my side, and in Him, I have all I need, joy included.  I am no longer a prisoner of my own thoughts and emotions.  I've surrendered all to Him.  I am no longer chained!


Dana Rongione is a Christian author, speaker, writing coach, teacher, pianist, housewife, hiker, dog lover, avid reader, blogger, chocoholic and much more. She and her husband, Jason, reside in Greenville, SC with their two dogs, Tippy and Mitch.

Dana is the author of numerous devotions, books, e-books, articles, songs, poems, and stories. She also writes a monthly column for Whenever she has the opportunity, Dana enjoys speaking to women and sharing the life-changing lessons God has taught her. Her goal in life is to reach lost souls for Christ and to encourage the weary Christian.

To find out more, visit her site at and be sure to sign up to receive her daily blogs.

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