Choose Joy

I remember this moment like it was yesterday…

My mom and I were in beautiful Oahu, Hawaii and I had decided take this opportunity to go by myself to the beach while she napped. I found myself in a beautiful and relaxing destination with my soul feeling full of hurt, turmoil, and conflict.  The contrast of internal darkness at a bright beach was not lost on me! But God was right there with me.

Sitting there with the warm sand in between my toes, I did the only thing you do at a beach… watch people. The sun was setting, and I noticed families laughing and having fun. I saw millions of sunset selfies being taken and several people in plastic ponchos because it had just rained. It seemed like everyone was enjoying the moment.

Except for me.

I was watching the incredible Hawaiian sunset but I was feeling miserable. I took this selfie because what else do you do by yourself with a new GoPro? But in reality, this photo would be a reminder for me years later that life can bring you a lot of pain that feels like it will never end but it’s what you choose to do with that pain that matters to God.

In that moment I asked God how I had gotten there. Not to Hawaii (I flew Hawaiian Airlines) but how could I let myself hang on to so much of the pain I was feeling. I believe he gave me this trip with my mom to begin the process of healing me.  Sometimes people go through things and never let Him do the work He needs to do.  We just move on to the next season of life without closing out the previous one. We bury the pain in the sand but we do not heal from it, learn from it, or grow from it.

This was the day that I had decided, I need to “feel the all the feels”. I needed to experience all the emotions in full force so I can process this all completely. I didn’t want to leave any room for wounds in my life to not be healed properly.

That was 3 years ago.

Discovering this photo again struck me and I began to see the difference of my life then and my life now.  I experience joy almost every day and I have never been more healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually in my life. These are things that I aim for and what really matters to me everyday. I am stronger because of the pain in this photo.  I have built character in the process of hurt and uncomfortableness.
Learning that happiness is a choice and is not a destination is “easier caught then taught.”  Had I not chosen to do some hard work, discipline, and face the ugly things that life brought with grace and integrity, I could not have experienced happiness and joy today.

It’s not always easy to pursue joy & happiness. Honestly, when I went on this trip with my mom (my poor mom), I was miserable.  I kept joking with her and saying, “Now do you regret this trip with me?” She was so kind and so selfless that she never regretted it one bit even though I was miserable to be around. (You guys, I have the best mom in the world!!)

What I learned from this photo is you can be surrounded by beauty and be miserable or you can be surrounded by chaos and pain and find joy inside. I loved that trip to Hawaii but I also want to go back someday differently than the last time. I will bring a different attitude and a different outlook. I will considerate it a privilege to be there with someone I love and trust. And I will feel the joy of the experience no matter what state my life is in.

‘Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.’
James 1:2-4

Meet Amber Miyasato

Amber Miyasato has been on staff at Hillcrest Church for three years.  She is the Operations Director, which means she oversees all media, promotion, office, and century projects.  Some of the things she enjoys are graphic design and Crossfit (Crossfit Seven Cities).  She loves to write and be creative in several different aspects.
Her goal in life is to constantly grow in all areas so she can best reflect who Jesus is.

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