A Note from Missy Villa

What brings you joy?

My quick list would look like this: A warm day at the beach, finding the perfect gift for someone I love, belly laughs, answered prayers, celebrating birthdays and holidays, stories of redemption and restoration, making someone a meal they love…

This next question may be a little tougher: When was the last time you were able to fully sit in joy?

The first time someone asked me that question, my response was “I’m not sure I even know what that looks like!” Can you relate?

I learned at an early age that if I could anticipate conflict, I could help ease tensions and make life a little easier for everyone. Being on high alert and always prepared to jump in to help, was how I coped with the fear and anxiety of growing up in a difficult home environment. It gave me a sense of control in a situation in which I felt powerless. And even though I’m far removed from that dynamic, both in miles and in years, aspects of those coping strategies are still with me.

Traits that may seem helpful or even healthy on the surface - anticipation of others’ needs, intentionality in interactions, and high communication - when motivated by fear are actually symptoms of my unbelief. The fear and anxiety hiding behind my facade of “helpfulness” actually reveal my lack of trust in God. And what I’ve realized is that even when things DO go well, it is difficult for me to fully experience or celebrate it because I’m already looking and preparing for the next hard situation.

“Lord, show me how to fully experience joy” became my daily prayer. I knew it would come through surrender, not striving, but the concept of “sitting in joy” still felt elusive. Then, through a time of prayer journaling and listening, I felt God speak to my heart “Be still”. In that moment, everything came into focus: The answer to fully sitting in joy is allowing myself to fully REST in God.

Instead of striving and working and worrying. He’s inviting us to rest; to be, not do. He’s inviting us to lay our burdens at his feet, to remind ourselves of His goodness and celebrate what he’s done, and to pray with hope and expectation for what He will do.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30)

Friends, I invite you to consider with me, what it might look like for us to FULLY sit in the joy of His goodness this Easter season. In what areas of your life do you need to shed the weight of fear and anxiety and put your trust in God? And as you identify those burdens, will you join me in laying these things at His feet and choosing to REST in Him?

With Love,

Missy Villa
Director of Campus Experience