Joy Planck: Joy………..what can I say about Joy? She puts a smile on my face every time I see her. She is simply a …..joy! And what is fantastic about it is that if life is running smoothly, she is a joy and if life is finding it’s trials, she is a joy. Doesn’t matter what life is throwing at her, she knows who to turn to and that’s Christ. I’ve seen her grow in His love and it’s been beautiful. Now does she still struggle with those demons that want to roam around in her head, YES, but she is a fighter! I’m so thrilled that God gave me the privilege to call her “friend”.
My life as a follower of Jesus began because of my need for acceptance. But more than wanting myself to be part of the “in” crowd, I wanted my daughter to be a part of it.
I was not a “good girl”. I grew up in a family where parents were divorced, relationships were not healthy and kids knew themselves to be little more than burdensome. My life reflected my upbringing and I was a kid who lied and contrived and became a girl who drank and partied a little and slept around…a lot. I had not one ounce of respect for self and, at the same time believed in nothing by my own needs, wants and feelings.
So when, at the age of 26 I found myself married for the second time with two little girls, one 4 and the other just a year old, I began searching…hard. I wanted something better for my kids than the haughty looks “nice” folks had given to me. If you’re anything like me you know the people I mean and the looks I’m talking about. I never wanted my kids to feel like they weren’t good enough – even when they hadn’t done anything wrong but be born.
I realized one of the common things about all the kids who were accepted was that they all went to the big Christian Church in town on the corner.
Around that time I got a promotion at work. I went out to the warehouse to work on the filing system and try to help and bring some order to the place but I certainly got far more than I bargained for! When I began my tenure I was a smoking, cursing, debacle of a person. I gossiped and complained and groused full time. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for that group of Christian men to endure those first few months working alongside me. But as time wore on, I wore down and their little mentions of church or God or their tame weekends spent with their loving families got me asking questions. There was another member of our break room friend group who worked in another department and just so happened to be a youth pastor at a local church. Needless to say, he was all too eager to answer any questions I had about God and church.
I finally got up the nerve, with much urging from my new friends, to walk through those big wooden doors at the big church on the corner in town! I did it! And nobody threw me back out the door! They accepted me with open arms in spite of the fact that it was a small town and most of them knew who my parents were. I was so excited. I read my Bible and went to Sunday school and took my older daughter. The little one was a handful and her daddy would not go to church with me, so I left her home with him. I didn’t figure it was too big a deal since she really wouldn’t know what was going on anyway.
When I came to work one day and said that I’d had a discussion with the pastor and planned to be baptized they were thrilled. The youth pastor’s first question was, “Did he pray with you?” I looked at him, exasperated, and said, “No. Why?” YP’s reply was simple, you need to get saved. I told him I didn’t know what that even meant and said, “Tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it now!” So I prayed, in the break room, with my coworkers who’d led me so well along my journey joined in with me and I asked Jesus into my heart and it was perfect. I spent the rest of that day walking on a cloud. I finally belonged to the club! But there were vulnerabilities in my young, Christian heart and as we know from I Peter 5:8, we must be sober, be vigilant; because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I was saved and I was a Christian and Jesus was in my heart, but life was not perfect. My life was lacking in many ways and the biggest was in my marriage. My husband and I fought constantly. My young daughter was caught in the middle and I didn’t know what to do about it. I had never, in all my life witnessed a healthy, loving relationship and certainly did not know what to do to get one. I talked to my friends, family and colleagues about my troubles and they were only too happy to sympathize with me as I dishonored my husband and flushed my marriage vows down the figurative toilet daily.
The sympathy I got from one, certain friend grew from empathy for my situation, into attraction and then more. Before I realized what had happened, I was involved in a very inappropriate relationship and, although I knew it was wrong and that I wanted my marriage to survive for the sake of my baby girl, the attraction I felt to the life I wanted – with a Christian man – was so very strong. He was so kind and good (I thought). I failed to see the situation from his wife’s point of view! I remember lying in bed and NOT praying for God to change my situation, because even in those early days of my walk with the Lord, I knew that, according to Matthew 17:20, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. I wanted to think that God was handing me the ready-made, easy, perfect life I’d always dreamed of. But in my heart I knew better, simply because I was reading God’s word and so I knew the truth. What I didn’t know from reading the Bible and my short experience with Christian living, I knew from the small, quiet whisperings of my savior. I knew that Marriage is honorable among all (Heb 13:4) and that I had to preserve mine.
Finally, I could pray! I prayed for God to take away my impure thoughts and He did just that. And, after all these years, I’ve not been tempted in that way again. I repented, admitted what I’d done to my husband and begged him for forgiveness. I broke off the relationship with my friend and am beyond thankful to be able to say I ended the affair of the heart before it became more! The Lord changed me during that time and I turned to my husband and away from the rest. I learned to lean on God first and then my spouse and discovered so much I hadn’t realized. I came to KNOW my man for the honest, strong and dependable leader I had always dreamed of being married to.
God has continued to bless me in my life since I began to follow him all those years ago. I’ve moved, been promoted at work, seen my husband promoted and watched our kids grow into wonderful adults. We’ve had our trials, to be sure. My husband still does not attend church with me, but I am comforted and have peace, even in his absence. My kids are not perfect and struggle with school and friends at times, but I have perfect peace and know that God is doing a good work in them. My extended family struggles are daunting and run the gamut at times between alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, etc. but I am no longer plagued with jealousy, guilt and anxiety.
Many people say they are “blessed” and then go on to explain how they live a life of perfection. It’s almost as if “blessing” equals winning the lottery. I didn’t win the lottery when I came to know Jesus but He took me by the hand, He opened my eyes to the joy I didn’t know was available to me or even existed. I didn’t win the lottery that day in the break room at work, but found a much better prize. A prize worth more than money, or stature or reputation; I won the trophy of life – MY life. I took it out of this world and the hands of the devil and gave it over to the Only One who truly values it for what it’s worth! – Joy Planck
Lord, Thank you so much for friendship. Thank you for the example of your Son on earth. The relationship with you is my guidance and value. The relationship I have with those here on earth is my joy and care. I so appreciate those you have set in my path. I pray Lord for those that don’t understand the need for relationships. I pray for their loneliness and shame they carry with them daily. I pray that they will let go and open up to a world with You in it. Amen!