Often life doesn’t go how we planned it would go, which often makes us wonder where God is or if he sees or cares. My recent guest on Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast (Hope for When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned – Episode 86), Tracy Steel, a lover of both interior design and theology shared how she combines these two passions to creatively help others find peace and understand who God is and his purpose for them whenever their life doesn’t go as they wanted or planned. Here she shares a glimpse into God’s pattern of fun.
Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!
God’s Pattern of Fun
By Tracy Steel
All of us are living a life we did not design, but one that God is redesigning for us. Like a human interior designer or artist uses a set of design principles to help them create, God uses his own set of codes to create a couture life for each of us. Recognizing what these are is key to uncovering the purposes of God when life doesn’t go as planned.
In her new book, A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purposes When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned, author Tracy Steel considers six principles of design and how God also uses the principles of movement, emphasis, pattern, contrast, balance, and space to redesign our lives. Each of these principles enable us to uncover something spectacular about the purposes of our creative God. The following excerpt from pages 88-91 from her new book focuses on the principle of pattern. God uses pattern to communicate something about himself or to help us replace our negative thought or behavior patterns with the positive patterns found throughout the Bible. The following pattern found throughout Scripture is designed to make you smile. So enjoy it and embrace it whenever motherhood or life doesn’t go as planned.
God’s Pattern of Fun
Adulting is hard. Thank goodness for laughter. And boy, I sure do love me a good laugh, which usually results from something I did. For example, I sometimes don’t speak or apparently understand my native language of English very well. Which is awesome because I am writing in said native language to you.
When I was a little girl I used to watch the nightly news with my dad. Somewhere among the newscasts I misheard an oft-repeated phrase uttered by our meteorologist. For decades I would say to others something akin to, “Brrr. It is supposed to be freezing today. I heard that the windshield is going to drop to like -1 degree or something.” Did you catch the epic mistake that NO ONE FOR YEARS was kind enough to correct me on? I said “windshield.”
A windshield is the pane of glass that runs perpendicular to the front dashboard in your car. I, however, thought windshield had two meanings, thanks to the weatherman in Kansas. So I kept saying windshield instead of wind chill to whoever would listen. I can’t even believe I did this. Okay, yes I can.
It was finally my sweet husband who grew me up in weather speak and revealed my linguistic error. I was embarrassed and devastated. And then I laughed at myself for a long time. We still laugh whenever we hear a weatherperson say wind chill. Feel free to do the same.
Take time to laugh
I also pray that you will pause for a minute and consider how much you’ve allowed yourself to laugh lately. The kind of laughter that makes you snort like a pig or cry tears of joy. When was the last time you relaxed and did something for fun? Not something fun for your bestie, or for your children or spouse, but something that you consider to be fun that made you chuckle deeply?
I pray you are making that time to laugh, because our level of laughter is a telling indicator of our level of joy. As our social media feeds have rightly pointed out in a cacophony of memes, happiness and joy are two totally different things. Joy strengthens and sustains. Happiness is fleeting and fickle.
Even though life may not be going according to our plans, God desires for us to be joyful in the midst of the shocks and hurts. Why? Because he is joyful. God is working all things out for our everlasting good and his unending glory. Our God is eternal and forgiving, but he also laughs and is quite funny. This same joyful God is who we, as Christians, claim to love and strive to emulate on a daily basis.
The most joyous people on earth
Christians then, should be the most joyful people on the planet. Not in a way that is overly cheesy, really loud, and in people’s faces. But in a more sure-and-steady kind of way. Those who love Jesus know what they have been saved from. They also know that all the things that hurt or frustrate them now will not follow them into eternity. Revelation 21:4 promises no death or tears will exist in heaven. The tears we shed right here and right now are the only ones that we, the children of God, will ever experience. Talk about a joy-producing thought, amen?
Let me be clear, I do not believe God wants us to pretend to be happy in dark seasons of life, faking everyone out while we fall apart inside. However, when we yield to the movement of God, pain and joy can coexist at the same time. I will touch on this when we discuss the principle of space in a later chapter, so hang on.
Joy is not surface deep, but soul deep. It doesn’t come and go but just is. Joy is not a result of our circumstances, but results in knowing our God and enjoying him no matter our circumstances. It isn’t something we can fake or produce within ourselves. It is a God-given gift. Are you asking God to fill the core of your soul with joy? Are you allowing the joy of the Lord to hold you up as you live a life you did not design? And if you are not experiencing some level of joy in your life, why do you think this might be?
Stick to this pattern. Cease trying to be surface-level happy. Ask God to fill you up with his soul-level joy whenever life falls apart, for joy gives us the strength to go on and helps to ease our stress level. And God has filled our world full of things that are fun and people that are just, well . . . funny. Go and enjoy them.
Pay attention to patterns of fun
Look for patterns of fun that usually include the words joy, blessed, delight, pleasure, or laughter throughout the pages of Scripture. They’re gratifying to read and teach us several things:
God’s joy fulfills us.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
God rejoices over us.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory. (Ps. 149:4)
Laughter is good for our soul.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Prov. 17:22)
Pay attention to and grow from patterns like this one. God wants you to know more about him so you can place your confidence in him or experience freedom and joy whenever life doesn’t go as planned. Whether you find yourself in a desert season full of diamonds and triangles or in a fancy-schmancy season full of damask and toile, stick to the pattern as God redesigns your life.
About Tracy Steel
Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in interior design in 1998 and has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Phoenix Seminary. As a project designer, Tracy created and coordinated the design and space planning of commercial spaces for clients such as Bank One, Wells Fargo, Express Scripts, DHS, and Lockheed Martin. Moving from one type of interior design to another, Tracy then worked in full-time youth ministry, serving as the director of female students at Scottsdale Bible Church. God’s true design for Tracy now involves improving the interior space of the hearts and minds of women around her. Currently stationed in Washington, DC, this military wife and mother of two enjoys linking up with other bloggers, leading Bible studies at her local church, and speaking at various moms’ groups and women’s ministries events nationwide. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a 10-week Bible study for young women that focuses on identity, overcoming and healing through Christ, and bearing the image of Christ.
Connect with Tracy: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Hope for When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned – Episode 86, Tracy Steel is giving away a free copy of her book, A Redesigned Life: Uncovering God’s Purposes When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about looking for patterns of fun and you will be entered into the contest.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, December 14, 2020, here on this post. Continental United States only.
(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
I did so enjoy the podcast with Tracy and this blog message just adds to the deepest sense of Joy I am feeling today.. So much in our world to produce anxiety and fear but I choose to walk in the knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord. This message and what you and Tracy shared on the podcast helped me so much in distinguishing joy and happiness. I knew the difference but now I KNOW that I have JOY and not just surface happiness in my life today. I am assured of my salvation and my life of service and HOPE in the midst of trials. Thank you both for sharing your life and your heart with us. I will share this blog on FB.
One thing I learned about looking for patterns of fun is that God has a cheerful, joyful heart, and if I make a point to be intentional to look for the patterns of that in Him, then I will discover it more in my own life as He ministers to me in the midst of hard times.
This sounds like a great book to help us look for God when we’ve been in a rut.
I find that joy has been a dim memory that only appears when I loose my hold on my anxieties and fears. It is good to remember that we are a people who need to exhibit real joy as we are bound to an eternal destination where fear and tears are never found. Thanks for the good verses that confirm that joy and cheerfulness are our signature
statements for our faith in Jesus.
I have learned that I need to always look for the ways that God is trying to encourage me and even when things don’t go well, i.e., the way I want to, laugh at my mistakes and look at what I do have which is not dependent on circumstance or situation — it is possible to have godly joy at all times!
I do need to laugh more. There is so much in life to laugh about!
So just curious who won the book giveaway? The article above says “The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, December 14, 2020, here on this post.” I’ve been checking once in a while and I don’t see a winner announcement.
Alice was the winner.
Thanks! And congrats to Alice! 🙂