I try to incorporate Joy in my life, my conversation. It’s even a part of my writing name…for when I’m being professional and stuff. It’s my middle name, so it’s like my civic duty to represent Joy well.
I always knew that Joy was different than happiness. And I have been in church long enough to know that God calls us to joy over happiness. Which means that I make a decision, like most things in this walk, to have joy in all situations, trusting God for the outcome. I do that instead of allowing my situations dictate how I feel (happiness). Decision over emotion. I have joy that there is always food on my table. I have happiness when it is a steak, loaded baked potato (with real bacon, thank you) and broccoli (in case you needed a reference point).
I have taken some hard hits in my life And in my spiritual growing process…in dealing with affairs and heartbreak, the brokenness of my family, absentee father, failed friendships…I fought hard for what I thought was joy. However, I was too busy focused on why. Why God why would you allow this? Do you not love me? Do you not care about me? The more emotional I got….and believe me sweetie I got enough to feed the needy on emotionalism…the less joy I would feel. In fact, I wallowed in unhappiness. The perplexing part came when I decided that the Joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10. Chaos may swarm all around me, but my smile is genuine, my laugh is hearty (if you’ve heard my true, gut busting laugh…well there is nothing else like it!), and my heart is full of JOY! When I decided to trust God in everything, His joy gave me strength to face it all.
Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback church, describes Joy as the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
This Christmas I had a lot of reasons to be sad. I had a lot of reasons to allow my circumstances to dictate my emotions. I could almost picture myself sobbing into my goblet of egg nog, pulling wads of tissue out of my bra, barely wiping my waterfall of tears before grabbing another tissue. Howling, screaming, crying…hair flopping which ever way my head was tossed by the next rush of emotions. My eyes would be swollen shut and my words unintelligible. My face beet red, rolling around on the floor in sheer agony and defeat. LOL!! I had a lot going on (I’m sure I’ll be telling you about it soon. Ya’ll know I can’t hold water), and was nervous this would be my everyday existence for the Holiday season. I didn’t think I would be able to give my kids a good Christmas. I didn’t think I would be surrounded by goodness and love. But I simply took those thoughts, and gave them to God. And I asked Him for joy…and strength. Like most issues, it was a matter of my heart. I asked Him to change my heart and my perspective.
And He did so much more!! I was (am) constantly filled with Joy. He blessed me to give my boys a great Christmas. He restored some relationships that I thought were a permanent wash. And I have been surrounded by love and laughter and good food and delicious cookies. And real bacon has been on sale at my local grocer! #winning Nothing but God. And His joy.
Listen sis…no sooner than you declare something like this, life decides to hurl you with a related test. Decide Joy anyway. Take comfort. God is with you. And He wants you operate under His joy! There is strength there! It’s so much better than sitting slumped, sobbing. No matter what comes, trust God. Depend on God. And enjoy His joy!
We’re depending on God; He’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own His holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got -that’s what we’re depending on .