You Gotta Keep Dancin’

You Gotta Keep Dancin’ by Tim Hansel is a book full of pure golden gems on choosing joy in the hard things. A friend and mentor let me borrow it and I’m so thankful for that. I struggle with dancing in difficulties so I’m letting these tough and tender truths sink in. This book was a wonderful wake-up call for me, and I hope my verbatim notes (quotes from the book) from it can encourage someone else to start twirling in the trials and trenches, too.

  • “Stress, disappointment, heartache, hurt, pain- all are a part of the human condition. But while pain is unavoidable, misery is optional. The freeing message is that no matter what your circumstances, with God’s help you can choose to be joyful. God works in our physical and emotional suffering, helping us discover the real meaning of joy.”
  • “I don’t want to diminish the awfulness of pain, tragedy, and affliction. I don’t want to ‘celebrate’ pain, but more deeply understand the dignity of what can happen in it.”
  • “The living Christ transcends all difficulties and circumstances.”
  • “Both heartache and hope are tangible and real.”
  • “Teach me and show me Your ways in the midst of this. I realize that for days I have been so self-preoccupied that I have closed out all the windows of light. Help me to will Your will, Lord. Help me to get outside of my own puny preoccupations.”
  • “You don’t discover your roots until you’re at the bottom of the pit.”
  • “If you can’t change circumstances, change the way you respond to them.”
  • “There is new hope each morning. I will continue to make this difficult life delicious.”
  • “Perhaps this is the ultimate realization- when we recognize that all the questions have the same answer that comes from you, oh Lord.”
  • “Learning patience takes a lot of patience.”
  • “Pain can either make us better or bitter, break down or break through.”
  • “The problem with pain is that it’s myopic- the self-absorption robs us of our strength and vitality, and self-pity is a waste of time. Only God has the key to unlock me from myself.”
  • “Anything, I suppose, has the opportunity of being a privilege.”
  • “Don’t apologize for who you are- even now.”
  • “Learn from the pain like a friend. Perhaps the pain has forced some kind of awakening in me. It has established a new durability of the spirit and a new endurance of the heart, but also a wild and tenacious vividness of life. My eyes have been opened to see so much more of life I would have been willing to do so otherwise.”
  • “Make a commitment to joy. Don’t put off joy until your circumstances improve.”
  • “The change came more by grace than intention.”
  • “The joy of the Lord is your strength” -Nehemiah 8:10
  • “No truths are simple, but as we pursue and participate in them more fully, they begin to reveal to us a life deeper and more integrated than we ever could have known otherwise.”
  • “ I can be willing and choose to be joyful and strength will follow.”
  • “There is a strong connection between joy and strength.”
  • “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:32 “Not just believing, but an intimate understanding and experience. A belief that has matured and taken root, from mere cognition to a new kind of power”
  • “True joy is not dependent on circumstances. It is in spite of circumstances.”
  • “Our perception of our limitations are what hold us back, not our actual limitations. It wasn’t the pain that was thwarting me as it was my attitude toward the pain.”
  • “Though difficulties were undeniably real and would remain so, I had the opportunity to choose a new freedom and joy if I wanted to.”
  • On Romans 5: “Through Christ we have access to grace and we can share in rejoicing in our sufferings now.”
  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” –James 1:2-4
  • “Joy can be restored and increased no matter how impossible it seems.”
  • “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” –Psalm 51:12
  • “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • “I had always believed the statements in scripture were true, but I realized that they would have to take on new levels of reality for me. The possibility of joy in the midst of all this seemed remote, but the journey had begun.”
  • “Joy is a choice.”
  • “Happiness itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s a feeling that’s circumstancial and circumstances shift. Joy defies circumstances and occurs in spite of difficult situations. It’s an attitude, a posture, a position.”
  • “Joy is that deep-settled confidence that God is in control of every area of my life.” –Paul Sailhamer
  • “Joy is a by-product of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s free but not cheap- it requires commitment, courage, and endurance.”
  • “At any moment in life we have at least two options, and one of them is to choose an attitude of gratitude, a posture of grace, a commitment to joy.”
  • “Joy has so much to do with how we see and hear and experience the world. It has more to do with who we are than what we have, more to do with the healthiness of our attitude than with the health of our bodies.”
  • On Galatians 2: “This is the source of true joy. Crucified with Christ means no longer trying in my own strength. Being justified by faith in Christ means being put together the way we are supposed to be. We are made right- not improved or patched up. Our fundamental being is set in right relationship with God. We are never right in ourselves, but only in response to and as a result of God working in and through us.”
  • On asking the doctors what they could do to help him: “Well, all I can tell you is that everybody has to live with something and you’re going to have to learn to live with pain, but it’s not the end of the world. You’re still blessed with many things, such as movement. I suggest you bite the bullet and live to be a hundred. My recommendation is that you live your life as fully and richly as possible.”
  • “As strange as it may seem, up to that point I hadn’t known I had a choice. I hadn’t realized that my health was in my hands, not the doctors. I was responsible for who I was to be and how healthy I could become. It was a genesis moment when I discovered again that I was in control of my pain, my future, my attitude, my life. I arrived home with a new level of acceptance for my circumstances, not unmindful of my situation, but overwhelmed with hope and no longer trapped in a cycle of fear, depression, and cautious panic.”
  • “Endorphins are the body’s natural anesthesia and a relaxant and helps human beings sustain pain.”
  • “I had allowed myself to step into the victim mentality without wanting or knowing it. But through a gentle doctor, our Lord again ‘turned my mourning into dancing, and my sackcloth into joy.’ (Psalm 30:11)”
  • “Procrastinating over the joy of being alive is one of the greatest burglars of life I know.”
  • “Now is as good as any time to jump in.”
  • “Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited again about the privilege of simply being human. This time called life is far more sacred and special than any of us can ever imagine. Our task, or should I say our privilege, is to become aware of it and to participate as deeply and as fully as we are capable. We often put a false barrier between what we call the secular and the sacred, limiting the way that God can touch us and express Himself through us.”
  • “Accept each day as a gift from the Father’s hand.”… ‘Open it. I invite you to share with me these little appointments with myself as we try to unwrap the hidden beauties in an ordinary day.’ –Gerard Frost
  • “The greatest miracle of all is life itself- full of sacred unrepeatable moments. Don’t wait until it’s too late to realize how short and sacred life is. Relish it now.”
  • “The most tangible form of grace itself is the substance of our normal everyday life.”
  • “ ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all’ –Helen Keller ”
  • “Too many people walk through life with gloves and a raincoat on, refusing to observe and experience the beauty and the wonder of the world around them.”
  • “Life is short, and for some it’s even shorter. We can’t continue to be blind and waste our days. Each day only comes once. Stop preparing to live. Don’t miss life.”
  • “Laughter has an incredible capacity to heal our bodies, our minds, and our spirits.”
  • “A cheerful heart is good medicine” –Proverbs 17:22
  • “Our ability to laugh and enjoy life is a good mirror of our health. Are you fun to live with? Do you approach life with a sense of humor? Are you able to look at the light side of things in spite of difficulties?”
  • “The word health means wholeness. Optimum health, then, is how we become most whole, most alive in Christ.”
  • “Humor and laughter make life liveable and adds richness and color to otherwise ordinary days. A gift, a choice, a discipline, and an art. Laughter is the best medicine. Find what makes you laugh. Tickle others with humor.”
  • “Run towards a challenge, not away from it.”
  • “Life really is fun, if we only give it a chance. Countless moments of serendipity are constantly alive to us and inviting us to participate, if we have but eyes to see and ears to hear, and hearts to respond.”
  • “When we can laugh at ourselves and our own situations and the life around us, it literally produces physiological and chemical changes in our bodies that bring about a greater sense of vitality, health, and even healing.”
  • “ ‘Life is difficult. A great truth. Accept it. Don’t moan about it.’–Scott Peck”
  • “A measure of our health is how we respond to pain and problems, not the pain and problems themselves.”
  • “Life becomes increasingly joyful as we give ourselves wholeheartedly to it.”
  • “The bible is certainly not oblivious to difficulty. But it is critical that we begin to understand Scripture’s message that difficulty and joy are not exclusive entities, but mutual friends.”
  • “Many people live as though they regret God’s incredible invitation to life.”
  • “The prosperity gospel isn’t biblical. On one side is the message of hope. The Scriptures say that the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree- but we need to remember that palm trees don’t grow in beautiful forests, but in the desert. We are called to bear fruit- but we must recognize that the fruit tree grows in valleys, not mountaintops.”
  • “I believe that pain and suffering can either be a prison or a prism. The tests of life are not to break us but to make us. We’re called to not flinch from real trouble, for the greater part of life occurs in the inner man.”
  • “Perhaps God gives us difficulties in order to give us the opportunity to know who we really are and who we really can be. We live in a world that is sometimes constipated by its own superficiality. But life’s difficulties are even a privilege, in that they allow or force us to break through the superficiality to the deeper life within.”
  • “ ‘Success is never final; Failure is never fatal; It is courage that counts.’ –Winston Churchill ”
  • “A certain measure of maturity lies in the fuller dimensions of allowing the transitions that are difficult but necessary to take place.”
  • “They can take away everything except my attitude with which I respond to the situation.”
  • “It takes courage to look beneath the surface of pain.”
  • “We waste much of our life in bitterness and complaint, always looking for something else, never realizing that perhaps God has already given us sufficient grace to discover all of what we are looking for in the midst of our own circumstances. I’m convinced most of us, even in our most difficult situations, have everything we are looking for- if we would but choose to accept it and embrace it. Most of us are already in the place where God wants us to be- if we were but willing to deepen our roots, increase our courage, and expand our vision and hope.”
  • “Another advantage of disadvantages is that we have the opportunity to be transformed by our suffering. To be pushed. Pulled. Moved in one direction or another. Pain and suffering produce a fork in the road. It is not possible to remain unchanged.”
  • “To let others or circumstances dictate your future is to have chosen. To allow the pain to corrode your spirit is to have chosen. And to be transformed into the image of Christ by these difficult and trying circumstances is to have chosen.”
  • “ ‘Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His presence.’ –Paul Claundel ”
  • “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character: and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” –Romans 5:3-5
  • “Find the ability to transcend your pain and serve others.”
  • “We live in a society that looks only on the surface. Pain produces an identification with the sufferings of others and Christ. One is allowed to see the dignity in the midst of human struggle and see beyond the false barriers that are oftentimes imposed between human beings. If our maturity grows, perhaps we even learn to see Christ in each other and even in ourselves.”
  • “We can become thinned out by trying to do too many things. One of the advantages of disadvantages is the privilege of being forced to see that which is closer, that which is simple, that which has been given to you. Life must have limitations in order to have depth. What we have traditionally perceived as limitations are sometimes the lens which can bring our life into a deeper and finer focus.”
  • “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
  • “Time and time again in both the Old and New Testament, God expresses his desire to give us his genuine strength and power. Paul reminds us that one of the greatest limiting features to receiving that power is our temptation to rely on our own strength.”
  • “Pain can either integrate or disintegrate me. The choice is up to me.”
  • “Our level of joy (and therefore our strength and healing) is directly proportionate to our level of acceptance. Our attitude is the key.”
  • “Too often we miss grace by getting caught up in doing over being.”
  • “There are 365 ‘fear nots’ in the bible.”
  • “We must go through our difficulties in order to find the kind of peace, joy, endurance, steadfastness, and indefatigable hope that God wants for us in our journey to become more like his Son. His steadfast promise is his presence in the midst of going through.”
  • “Grace is the central invitation to life, and the final word. It’s the beckoning nudge and the overwhelming, undeserved mercy which urges us to change and grow, and then gives us the power to pull it off. It’s the overexposed and underexperienced gift from beyond, to help us struggle through the dailyness of our time, and perhaps lighten our step and point the way.”
  • “Our limitations can become the very invitation to discover fully the dimensions of grace, the improbable path to God’s otherwise hidden blessing.”
  • “ ‘In the midst of winter I finally discovered within me an invincible summer.’ -Albert Camus ”
  • “Suffering in one way or another is almost guaranteed. Jesus said there would be trouble. God’s mercy and grace in it depends on his character, not ours.”
  • “When we’re suffering, whether from chronic pain or deep sorrow, we must remember to focus more on what we can do than we can’t, more on the privilege of being alive than on the deprivation of energy.”
  • “We are free to respond to a situation how we choose to.”
  • “Self-pity drains your energy. It’s a great waste of time and emotions. I confess my vulnerability. Let go of your excuses and get on with living.”
  • “Spending time in God’s Word does amazing things to clarify our direction.”
  • “Acceptance means that I accept the process. Acceptance means to stop avoiding and start leaning into my particular situation. It means that I’m willing to let go of who I think I ought to be, and become who God wants me to be.”
  • “God guides us one step at a time because I don’t think most of us would have the courage for the journey if we knew it all ahead of time.”
  • “There is a difference between knowing the words and experiencing their meaning, between having the sentences embedded in your head and having their impact embedded on your heart.”
  • “It’s only by cracking our very nature that God is able to even begin to make us vessels for his living word. We are called to be crucified with Christ, and sometimes it’s a slow death for our old nature.”
  • “Renewal is more than mere repair, more than just knocking a few dents out. It’s an inside-out job. In Christ we are new creatures altogether, and this is a continual process, not merely a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
  • “Courage is a necessity- courage to accept ourselves solely, when the world bombards us with messages to the contrary. The courage (a command in scripture) to love ourselves in the midst of life. And the courage to forget ourselves in recklessly loving a hurting world with the genuine love of Christ.”
  • “Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what we do deserve.”
  • “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” -2 Corinthians 4:8-9
  • “I’ve survived because I’ve discovered a new and different kind of joy I never knew existed- a joy that can coexist with uncertainty and doubt, pain, confusion and ambiguity.”
  • “Joy is a process, a journey- often muffled, sometimes detoured; a mystery in which we participate, not a product we can grasp. It grows and regenerates as we have the courage to let go and trust the process. Growth and joy are inhibited when we say ‘if only’, enhanced when we realize that failures and difficulties are not only a critical part of the process, but are our very opportunities to grow.”
  • “When we give up our excessive need for security and clean victories, for everything to be right, then the peace that passes all understanding has room to invade our lives again.”
  • “While one great tragedy of the world is that many people are unfamiliar with Jesus, it is equally tragic that some of us are too familiar with him, in the sense that we think we know, we think we really understand the full significance of his life within us and among us.”
  • “Ours is an age that wants to neatly wrap everything in cellophane. We want answers, not process. We’re trained to come to conclusions which, when captured, we can control. The only problem is that it doesn’t work in every area of our lives.”
  • “People miss joy because they can’t see it outside their preconceived notions of what joy should be and look like.”
  • “One of the best things I’ve been forced to learn is to let go of my preconceived images about God, about life, and about myself. I’ve discovered that I am less – and more – than what I had imagined: both more whole and more fragmented, stronger and more fragile, more selfish and more capable of genuine love.”
  • “If this process has taught me anything, it is to be who I am in Christ, without images or pretense. I am slowly learning what it means to be free in Christ. Being justified in Christ means, among other things, that I don’t have to keep continually justifying myself. I am slowly discovering a radical and rooted kind of self-acceptance- because of and in spite of my limitations.”
  • “Triumph doesn’t have to look victorious.”
  • “Discover not only the privilege of living, but also of life’s delicious pieces.”
  • “Each day continues to give me an opportunity to learn and grow, love and laugh, fail and get up again, struggle and lose, persevere and get to know the Lord in a more personal and intense way.”
  • “There will be more questions than answers, but the living out of those questions, honestly and joyfully, may be the most genuine and realistic response to our life of faith. The point now is to live the questions out as fully as possible with gladness and hunger.”
  • “In the book of Job it says that God will test us and try us until we ‘come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10). Someone once asked a goldsmith how long he kept the gold in the fire. His reply: ‘Until I can see my face in it.’ In his marvelous and mysterious way, God keeps shaping us until he can see himself in our lives. The process is long, arduous, complex, and certainly not painless, but it’s worth it. And we need not wait until the conclusion to celebrate. We can, if we choose, genuinely celebrate the process.”

Let’s dance, shall we?

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