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Do you ever feel that way? 

Let me just tell you, it’s a lie.

I recently watched a television show that featured a woman who had been separated from her husband for many years.  They no longer lived in the same house, but every day, he would come over and have her iron his shirts and make him breakfast.

One of the women in the room asked her why she kept holding on to him.  Why she let him come over and dictate her life when he didn’t want to be a part of her life. 

“I guess I feel, I don’t deserve– I don’t deserve to be happy.”

That realization stunned her.  It brought her to tears.  She had been punishing herself for making the ‘bad decisions’ that got her into this situation. 

That memory of watching that show came back to mind earlier this morning.  How often do we believe that half-truth that we don’t deserve joy?

Can I tell you how freeing it was to write what I did yesterday?  To shed the mantle of perfection that I think I had given myself.  I know no one else gave it to me, but I guess I just felt like it was expected of me, being in public ministry and all.  Confession brings such healing because it drags into the light what we wanted so much to hide.

As I got ready for work this morning, I dwelt on a truth– I am forgiven.  I am free.  I have every right as a child of God to have joy.

It may seem twisted.  Part of us feels like there must be some form of penance.  There has to be a purification period, like in ancient Israel, right?  Some process that cleanses us to be able to be ‘normal’ again.

Like that woman who still ironed her estranged husband’s shirts and made him breakfast, I can find myself serving my sin like I owe it something.  I can find myself treating myself like I’m a good-for-nothing, useless filthy rag.  Even though I am free, I let sin, guilt and shame dictate my life– even my walk with God.  I know, it’s crazy! (I’m sure none of you do that)

I don’t deserve happiness- I deserve hell, but God gives me joy and grace.  That is a truth I always forget right after I let myself down.  He is always ready to forgive me before I can find it to forgive myself.

I hopped in my car this morning, rejoicing.  Not because I am a sinner or because I am ignorant, but because I am loved by God- period.  I turned on the radio and on came Francesca Battistelli’s “Free to Be Me.”  I turned it up and rocked it the whole way to work.   

Remember, victory is won by God.  Freedom is a lifestyle of walking in that victory.

What about you?  What things steal your joy?