17 November 2013

Melanie Dickerson Shares about Finding Peace and Joy Despite Circumstances

Melanie Dickerson

When Carrie first asked me to write about a struggle I’ve had, I wasn’t sure what I would write about. But then, soon after, I had an epiphany.

Pretty much all my life I have struggled with the fact that God said we Christians are supposed to “be glad and rejoice,” and to have joy and peace. That sounded good to me. I was all for joy and peace. But somehow joy and peace always eluded me. I didn’t have a particularly joyful personality, it seemed, and that was something I didn’t like about myself. And since I had the power to change myself, through Jesus, I prayed for that to change.

I prayed for joy. I prayed a lot. But still I didn’t change. I was still the slightly cynical person I always was. I worked on becoming more positive, and I did learn to be much more positive. Now I deliberately look on the bright side of things—not always, but most of the time. I put forth the effort to be more positive, and God helps me.

Still, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t, essentially, changed. I had not become a happy person who never got depressed or down about my circumstances. In fact, I had become really frustrated. It seemed my circumstances completely ruled my mood. If things were not going well, I felt sad. If things were going better, I was relatively happy. But I didn’t like being ruled by my circumstances. There was always something not going well, it seemed. I was a Christian. I wasn’t supposed to be ruled by my circumstances. I was supposed to be able to rise above them. But how? Why couldn’t I be one of those people who was happy all the time, no matter what? Why wasn’t God changing me and making me joyful? I’d tried really hard to become joyful. I’d prayed really hard for it. I’d believed that joy was my destiny as a Christian. Why didn’t I feel joy?

Then one day I was reading my Bible and it hit me. I’d been striving to LEARN to be joyful and to be at peace, but I didn’t FEEL joyful or peaceful. But the Bible said joy and peace were fruits of the Holy Spirit. Does a pear tree have to LEARN to bear pears? Does it have to put forth a lot of effort to produce pears? No. It’s the nature of a pear tree to bear pears. It has pears INSIDE IT, so to speak, and the pears just naturally come forth. Why wouldn’t it be the same with joy and peace? If joy and peace are fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I have the Holy Spirit inside me, then I HAVE joy and peace. I don’t have to learn or strive for joy and peace. They are there, inside me.

This may seem simple and obvious to you, but to me, it was a breakthrough. I also realized that I don’t have to change my personality to feel joy and peace. God makes us all with different personalities and characteristics. I may be a rather melancholy person by nature, but God gives me joy and peace. I’m not a wildly happy person all the time, a Pollyanna who never gets down, but God does give me joy and peace in a very real way. I am who I am, personality-wise, and I can accept myself the way I am. I was able to learn to be more positive and to trust God more. But joy and peace are my heritage, a deposit that comes with having the Holy Spirit living in me, a blessing that came when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and He came and made His home in me. I am in Christ and He is in me. Joy. Peace.

One thing that brings about joy and peace, is remembering my salvation. Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
There is joy in knowing I am saved and will be with God in heaven, that all my sins are forgiven, and that I am right with God and He sees me as righteous. Wow. And I can have peace because God is always with me. He never leaves me. He never forsakes me. I have God’s Holy Spirit inside me. Therefore, I have peace. It is a fruit of God’s Spirit. I can’t explain it, but just dwelling on that gives me peace in a way that I had seldom felt peace before.

This newfound joy and peace was tested recently when, on Halloween night, my purse was stolen out of my van in the church parking lot while I was inside playing games with the neighborhood children. It’s an outreach our church does every year. To get my purse stolen was a nightmare, the very kind of unsettling, time-stealing, aggravating thing that I hate. I hate calling any sort of customer service to get something straightened out. And a week and a half later, I am still having to call customer service lines to get things straightened out. I had to get my driver’s license replaced, cancel my bank account and set up a new one, change my credit card on PayPal and every online store I regularly shop at, not to mention call all the customer service people at all the places that automatically charge my credit card every month—like my website host.

But, through this very frustrating circumstance, I survived. Most of the things I had to do were not as difficult as I’d thought they’d be. I was able to cancel my credit card and debit card before the thief was able to use the credit card more than once. But it still wasted a lot of my time and caused me a lot of aggravation.

A day and a half after it was stolen, I had to drive two hours to an event I had agreed to do months earlier. It was a beautiful morning, and I was thinking about my purse getting stolen, and the fact was, I felt enormous peace and joy. The sky was beautiful that morning. I was alone with my thoughts and God, and I realized that that thief had stolen very little from me, and certainly nothing of great value, because the only thing that really matters is my salvation and relationship with God. And that thief could never steal that from me.

Hebrews 12:26-27 says: At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

My salvation, and my status of being “in Christ Jesus” and having the Holy Spirit living inside me, cannot be shaken. No matter what my circumstances are, no matter what the devil tries to steal, kill, and destroy, I will not be shaken, my salvation will not be stolen, and I will always have the fruit of the Spirit inside me, including peace and joy.
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Bio:
Melanie Dickerson has just published her fourth book with Zondervan - The Captive Maiden. She is also author of The Fairest Beauty – Snow White retelling, The Merchant’s Daughter – Carol Award winner and Christy Award finalist, The Healer’s Apprentice – Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book.

You can connect with Melanie on:

Buy links:
Amazon: Click here
Christianbook.com: Click here
Barnes & Noble: Click here


GIVEAWAY: A paperback copy of The Captive Maiden will be given away to one blessed commenter so be sure and leave a comment on all the posts this week!

82 comments:

  1. I just love the cover of this book...so pretty and I think it sounds like a great book.
    I believe that striving to keep our joy is important for our life and family. I have not had my stuff stolen
    but I can imagine that must have felt horrible.
    Blessings
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books
    http://www.faithfulacresbooks.wordpress.com
    faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com

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    1. Hi, Linda! Thanks for stopping by! I love my covers too. I am so thankful that they seem to nail the essence of each story with the cover art. What a blessing that is for any writer. :-)

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  2. What a wonderful testimony, and one that everyone needs to read, MELANIE. The Bible never says we will not feel down or sad (look at Job and David in the Bible), but as you said we have it in our Spirit man. It isn't about feelings. In 2 Corinthians 4:9 it says we are, 'Cast down, but not destroyed." I am in alot of pain today with my back, and I don't feel too much joy right now, but He said to count it all joy...so I'm trying! Bless you, MELANIE!

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    1. Oh and LOOVED The Captive Maiden, BTW! My review is coming up Tuesday and I so struggled writing it, b/c I couldn't do the book justice! But I think everyone will get the gist of my feelings about it! lol

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    2. You are such a blessing, Diana! I can't wait to read your review! :-)
      I'm so sorry about your back pain. :-( Back pain is awful. I pray you will be feeling better very soon. And yes, joy and peace can be ours no matter what, and we can be "cast down, but not destroyed." That is actually comforting to me! Thanks for that verse.

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  3. Great to read about your life, Melanie - you are indeed a wonderful writer! :) So excited to read Captive Maiden someday...the cover is stunning! :)

    charityu.austenite[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thanks, Charity! My fellow Jane-ite! :-) Have you seen Austenland yet? I'm dying to see it. You've read the book, right?

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  4. Melanie, thank-you for sharing the biblical wisdom! and for sharing your own struggles. this post came at a time when I needed it. Carrie, thanks for hosting Melanie on your blog.

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    1. You're welcome, Heather! I'm glad it helped. :-) It's helping me to re-read it! :-)

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing. All of us have days that we feel less joy and peace and we need reminded.

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    1. Very true, Bonnie! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. MELANIE What a great post!!! I am by nature a lively, goofy,laugh at the drop of a hat type of person but there are days when I don't feel very joyful, so I needed to hear these word of wisdom. :) I also wanted to tell you The Capture Maiden was fairy-tale perfection. I LOVE LOVE LOVED IT!!

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    1. Thank you, Teresa! I can hardly wait to read your review! :-) You OWG girls are such a blessing to me! :-)
      I think I seem like a very happy, social person in certain situations, but I can laugh and smile when I'm around other people even when I'm actually very sad. I have a hard time sharing my feelings most of the time, but I have come a long way in that area, and also in the area of having a positive attitude.

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  7. Thank you for sharing! Peace is something I have had to learn.
    lotsofbooks1(at)live(dot)com

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    1. Peace is a valuable thing. :-) Thanks for the comment, Bookishqueen.

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  8. Melanie, Your post was such an emotional eye opener for me. Sometimes I think I am the least joyful person I know! I can so relate with what you wrote. I am adding Psalm 51:12 as my verse to meditate on this week. Thank you '
    I am adding your books to my reading list.
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Jackie! One thing I'm learning is that I don't have to change my personality--I was trying to do that but it was actually counter-productive--but I can still be very aware of God's joy and peace. I think sometimes it's just a matter of believing that I have God's peace.
      Thanks for your comment!

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  9. Sounds like a great book. Love the cover!
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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  10. The message today was on prayer. I had so many notes I wrote them up for my facebook post. Someone will think I'm preaching.... Would love to read your book!

    missionwife@hotmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Melody! Preach on, sister! Somebody probably needed those notes. :-)

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  11. I enjoyed this Melanie. And, you are so right and we know this to be true, but too many times we tend to hold onto something that GOD has already forgiven us for. It's not as easy for us to forgive as it is for GOD. Ourselves or others. I know it should be, but as humans it is not. But you are right about Joy and Peace inside us where the Holy Spirit lives. And, it says for us to forget, but haven't quite figured that one out yet. How do you keep a memory from coming into your head? I sure would be happy to win this book of yours. Thanks for a chance to win. So glad for this site with the OWG girls. It's the best. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Maxie, don't we have wonderful guests? And followers, like you--hugs!!!

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    2. Maxie, I hope you get to read it! Yes, it is very hard to forget, and hard not to condemn ourselves and others. But God wants us to bring our hurts and mistakes to him and give them over to him so he can give us peace. Pray for supernatural ability to do that. I once asked God to take away my anger toward another person who had repeatedly wronged me. The memories tormented me, even though I'd forgiven multiple times. And God did. It was definitely a supernatural thing. I pray he will do the same for you.

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  12. Melanie, your story of your search for joy is very similar to mine. I also have a melancholy personality and wondered why I couldn't feel more joyful since I was a Christian. I feel more joy now that I've quit striving (and worrying!) for it and just try to focus more on being the person God made me to be.
    I've given my daughter all your books; The Captive Maiden is slated to be one of her Christmas gifts. It would sure be nice to win a copy here since I have a tight budget. Thanks for the chance. My daughter and I really enjoy these fairy tale re-tellings. They are wonderful books. I introduced my book club to The Merchant's Daughter. They liked it too and now some are reading the other books.
    Blessings to you.
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Thanks so much, Pam! I really appreciate you spreading the word and promoting my books to your book club! That is a blessing to me! And I'm so happy your daughter likes them!
      I am so glad you have quit striving for and worrying about joy! Isn't it funny the things the devil uses to discourage us? But God is a God of peace, of freedom, and of abundant joy. Thank goodness we don't have to drive ourselves crazy trying to attain it! :-)

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  13. Sounds like a wonderful book. I would love to read it. The cover is beautiful. I would love this one!

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    1. Thank you, Sonja! I hope you will be able to read it! I always try to encourage people to request it from their library. That way they can read it, and so can other people!

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  14. Melanie, I forgot to say that I got my purse stolen once when I was staying with a sister in NM. And, was in a store. The things I lost were not replaceable. The wedding pictures taken with our camera of our oldest daughter's wedding. (no professional photos taken. It was one of those where the picture was developed in the camera, so had no negatives. And not many who were taking pictures so mine were a big loss. Also, the only pair of prescription sunglasses. Then or after. Just do well to afford one pair of glasses. And, more expensive as the years have gone by. One of the few times I had some cash in my purse. And of course my driver's license, etc. which could be replaced. BUT, what hurt the most was the pictures. But, shouldn't have been carrying them around to show..Just should have maybe carried one. And, poor girl had only a few. The cousin who was to be taking pictures lay the camera down after just a few to gwt in on the decorating their car. He should have at least given it to someone else to do. Oh, and I love the cover of this book.
    Maxie

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    1. Maxie, I am so sorry. An idiotic person threw away a family members' pictures pictures of her son as well as our mother's precious recipes--the one thing my sibling really wanted. So hurtful.

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    2. Oh, Maxie, that is so sad. Definitely irreplaceable. It's hard to understand why these kinds of things happen, but I pray God has or will restore a hundred fold to you, just as He did for Job, who lost everything this world offers. Carrie, I'm sorry for you as well. It is hard, but God is our healer and the one who restores what the locusts ate.

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  15. I really enjoyed your thoughts on Joy and Peace. I struggle with that I let all the problems in life get me down. I need to be thinking on things above.
    Tammy Hudson
    HUBTIVOLI1@YAHOO.COM

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    1. Tammy, it's easier said than done! But I think it does get easier as I get older. I realize how little this world actually has to offer! My salvation is a constant comforting thought.

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  16. Thank you for sharing your heart. Sometimes we think we are the only ones who struggle like you did. The cover of The Captive Maiden is stunning. I would love to read it. fishingjan[at]aol[dot]com

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    1. Thanks, Jan! We tend to isolate ourselves when we are hurting, but we are never alone.

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  17. I love your perspective! I wish I could have learned that as a teenager :) Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. Looking forward to reading your books!
    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. Heidi, I wish I could have learned that as a teenager too!!! :-) And I am way past my teen years. It takes things a while to sink into my heart and brain sometimes. :-)

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  18. Hi, Melanie!

    Really enjoyed your post! I can relate to your situation - some of us are born with joyful personalities, with others - it has to be cultivated. I have pessimistic tendencies, since my father & grandmother have struggled with depression their entire lives. At times, I've had to force myself to be joyful, but I've found that when I did - I found unexpected blessings. If I can say something to encourage someone, their happiness elevates my mood, also. Staying in a spiritual mind-set, by listening to praise & worship music, bible study, discussions with my sisters-in-Christ, & of course, prayer - has helped, also.

    I have read a lot of your comments on Facebook, & other online avenues, & you have always impressed me as being joyful, & I always see a smile on your face - so your prayers are definitely working! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Sorry to hear about your purse being stolen, but happy that you were able to retain your joy through the experience. I have had my purse stolen (at gunpoint), & it can be a frustrating experience, recovering, & securing the stolen contents.

    I haven't read any of your books, & would love to read "The Captive Maiden" - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    Hugs!



















    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie! I think we do have to cultivate a good attitude--definitely! It is something I try to do, because I know it is a weakness of mine. But that's the wonderful thing about God and His Spirit. He can help us change our weaknesses into strengths. And although I still have a tendency toward self-absorption and melancholia, I can still believe in the joy and peace that comes from being in Jesus and having Jesus in me. And that truth makes me very happy. :-)

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  19. This sounds like a wonderful book. Would love to win it. Thanks so much for sharing your lessons learned about joy and peace from The Lord. Something we can all take to heart, I'm sure!
    God bless,
    Betti
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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  20. God bless you, Im glad you found your peace
    Chris Granville
    granvilleATfrontiernetDOTnet

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  21. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and wise words, Melanie! "The only thing that really matters is my salvation and relationship with God. And that thief could never steal that from me." These words are a great reminder of this wonderful truth!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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    1. Awesome! Thanks, Britney, for coming by today! I'm glad it was helpful! :-)

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  22. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and wise words, Melanie! "The only thing that really matters is my salvation and relationship with God. And that thief could never steal that from me." These words are a great reminder of this wonderful truth!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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    1. Britney! I think I missed your comment earlier! Thanks for stopping by! Glad I could remind you. ;-) God is amazing! He is never defeated!

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    2. Whoops! I had already replied! This one was repeat! Haha!

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  23. Thank you so much for sharing these inspiring, wise words with everyone Melanie!! I used to be a lot more highly strung and would sometimes get so frustrated and annoyed at life's hardships and problems. Over time and especially after experiencing a mountain-top experience with the Lord, and really getting to know Him intimately and experiencing His unconditional and all-encompassing love for us and thereby growing much in faith, deep within I now realize more than ever, that God sees everything, completely loves us, and is ultimately in control. Not to say that everything will always be made perfect, but that He will help us through everything! So often we strive so hard on our own, thinking we don't want to bother God with our petty problems, but there are times I still have to remind myself that He wants us to bring all our anxieties etc to us, because He cares for us SO much. And like you said, the devil can never steal our peace and joy in Christ... coming to Him at these times can help us to realize that! Like yourself also, I praise God I'm so much more positive than what I use to be, because I know He's done that! :)
    Melanie - I'm expecting The Captive Maiden to arrive any day now and I honestly can't wait to read it as I absolutely love your stories!! God bless you!
    Enjoy your week here with OWG!!

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    1. Thank you, Noela! I am so happy God helps us grow and realize things and draw closer to Him. He is so faithful and merciful.
      And I hope you will ny new story! ;-)

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    2. Yikes! I need to proofread! I meant, I hope you will like my new story!!!

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  24. You have just made my eyes open!! I am a cynical person also - but happy and content. I always wondered why I wasn't "hopping with joy" if I was so content, even though I knew God makes everyone different. :) I now realize I am joyful - and God doesn't make mistakes. Thank you for a great post!!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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    1. Susan, Godliness with contentment is great gain. :-) I had to memorize that as a kid! God makes us all different, and that is not a bad thing! :-) Thanks for the comment!

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  25. Enjoyed this post and it makes me like you all the more! I'm glad to know there are other "marshwiggles" out there (from The Silver Chair by Lewis) than just me! I think even those of us who tend to plan for the worst instead of the best are given our personalities for a reason (sometimes to balance a very optimistic, enthusiastic person who tends to jump into things blindly in marriage). The key is definitely keeping our heart right before God and continuing to trust His promises of love for us...I'm still learning how to do this. Thanks for sharing, Melanie--would love to win your book!

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    1. Heather, you are so right! The key IS definitely keeping our heart right before God and trusting his love! Very well said. :-) Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed the post. :-) We marshwiggles have to stick together.

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  26. This would make a wonderful birthday book...FOR ME!

    missionwife@hotmail.com

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    1. Melody, I hope you are able to get it! ;-) Happy Birthday!!! And I love your name. It's almost like a song. (Sometimes I'm very punny.)

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  27. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Many of us can identify with your situation, but cannot put into words how we feel inside. Your honesty is wonderful to read. God made us who we are ... personalitity and all. This we must use for His glory. May God bless your work. I loved your first books and look forward to reading this one too.
    rrwalter 34ATgmailDOTcom

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    1. Thanks so much, Becky. :-) Very true that we must use even our personalities for his glory! Hope you will like The Captive Maiden!

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  28. Thank you, Melanie, for this very encouraging post!!!
    I got Captive Maiden in the mail Saturday, but for got to check my mail box, so I woke up this morning to a fun package to open! Thanks! I'm so excited!

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    1. Yay! Hope you like Valten's story, Natalie! :-)

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  29. Hey Melanie , love you review . I also live the cover if your book . Beautiful. I would love to win your book . Thanks and blessings
    lizd225(at)gmail(dot)com

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  30. MELANIE! I love what you said, especially this paragraph, "My salvation, and my status of being “in Christ Jesus” and having the Holy Spirit living inside me, cannot be shaken. No matter what my circumstances are, no matter what the devil tries to steal, kill, and destroy, I will not be shaken, my salvation will not be stolen, and I will always have the fruit of the Spirit inside me, including peace and joy."

    AMEN and AMEN!!!

    I have felt the same way over the past 18 months since losing my daughter, having a major foot surgery that has kept me down for almost 10 weeks and then pulling the muscles in my back just as I was getting around pretty good on one leg :)
    And you know what...God is good in ALL things. He brings me joy & peace in the midst of my darkest and most difficult moments!

    I would love to read this book. The cover is amazing!!!

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    1. Anne, it sounds like you have just been through a season of great trial and tragedy. I'm so sorry that you lost your daughter. I can't imagine. But I do know that it's been through the worst of times that I have drawn closer to God and depended on his love and grown in character the most. You are testimony that God's promises are true and He is faithful, no matter what happens to us, no matter our circumstances. May God always give you peace and joy, and I pray you receive healing in your foot and your back! God bless you, Anne.

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  31. Thank you for the giveaway, I have yet to read any of Melanie's books-What a gorgeous cover!

    I had my purse stolen at Disney-I just prayed for the Lord's will in the situation-the staff was skeptical I would get it back. 2 days passed and I got a call from Disney saying the purse had been returned. Thank God

    arieljo12 (at) hotmail (dot) com
    -Janella

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Janella, that is WONDERFUL! So glad your stolen purse story had a happy ending! :-)

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  32. Huge fan of the cover as well!!! And I love the idea of revamping old fairy tales. How much fun is that?!? Would love to be entered for a chance to win a copy of this. :D Best wishes on the success of this novel, Melanie!
    -Emily
    Emily_reynolds(at)Hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Emily! Yes, it is great fun revamping fairy tales! :-)

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  33. Grace under pressure, Melanie. :D
    You're a shining example!
    Thanks for sharing this with us. We can all learn from your example!
    (And I love pears... Good choice of example, that surely resonates with us all!)
    may at maythek9spy dot com
    Keep writing - we love reading your stories!

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    1. Thank you, KC! I love pears too! One of my favorite fruits. :-) I don't feel I'm a particularly good example most of the time! But occasionally I have an epiphany. :-)

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  34. I love your books! I'm so glad you're able to transform the fairy tales I love into God-centered love stories. :)

    crandallberries at gmail dot com

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  35. No matter what life hold we can have His joy and peace, it's so good to be His child.
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com
    OWG

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  36. What an amazing testimony! Thank you for sharing with us :)
    samanthaakuiper(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. What a wonderful post. I think the book cover is beautiful. Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
    Blessings
    Katrina

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  38. Thank you Melanie for your honest words. I have to say that some of what you talked about resonated with me. It is always a blessing and a comfort to hear that others struggle with some of the same issues with which I struggle. I am not alone. Thank you!

    chillirosen@hotmail.com

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    1. Mallori, That is why we are here! Thanks for coming by OWG blog. Many blessings!

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  39. Good books and good authors , what a great duo. I am sure anxious to read this one.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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