Joy is pretty awesome right? I mean, I’ve always loved the idea of joy. I know there are times I definitely feel joyful. I enjoy pinning joyful reminders to my inspiration board with thousands of other joyful Pinterest users. I always covet those shabby chic signs made out of barn wood and hand-painted with joyful messages.
“Joy is a choice you make every day.”
To me, joy has always kind of been in the same category with grace. Both, super awesome. Both, have a God connection. Both, would leave me stuttering for a few seconds if someone put me on the spot asking me to define them.
How do you define joy? What is the first thing that pops into your head?
Many people define joy by quoting instances in which they feel joyful. Joy is being with my family. Joy is a great conversation with a friend. Joy is giving back to my community. I feel joyful when I do X. But, that isn’t really defining joy, it is just stating when you feel joy.
A quick dictionary search of the word joy returns defining words such as delight, elation, glee, bliss, and jubilation. Certainly those words describe joy to some extent, but all of those words are feelings. So, they aren’t really defining joy either, but rather they describe the feeling you get from joy.
Is joy a feeling? Maybe, but I’ve always felt joy is more of a state of mind or even better, a state of heart.
I recently heard Kay Warren speak at a Women of Faith conference. She shared that on the absolute worst day of her life, the day she found out her son had committed suicide, she still managed to choose joy. I thought, if she could choose joy while in the midst of a mother’s worst nightmare, what does that mean for the rest of us? We all experience challenges, stresses, and sadness in our lives. Choosing joy in those tough situations, doesn’t mean we are celebrating them. It doesn’t mean we’ll proclaim from the roof tops if we hate our job, “I love my crappy boss!” We won’t sing and dance with joy if our car gets totaled or our water heater quits working. We won’t high five strangers if we get robbed. We won’t knuckle bump our waiter if our order comes out wrong or if our food is cold.
Joy is not a feeling you feel in a happy moment that just goes away; true joy is a state of being.
Joy is rooted in your belief that God is in control.
To have joy, is to have confidence that God’s got your back.
Joy is a lack of anxiety, because you are at peace, fully trusting in the Lord.
When I asked my husband if he bought into the idea that joy is rooted in our relationship with God rather than merely a feeling, his response nailed exactly what I had been trying to describe. Leave it to my wise hubby!
“When you are right with the Lord, it’s like armor, you will still get hit, but you will be more resilient.”
The morning after I wrote the majority of this post, I opened my bible to the reading for the day and God delivered the perfect verses.
“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11
“In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:16-17
Things happen in life. We will have bad days. We will have sad moments. But, I truly believe if we have a spirit of joy in the Lord, it is like armor protecting us, helping us to not be totally consumed by darkness. If you have joy, finding joy in the “junk” of life is easier.
Sometimes your spirit of joy gets widddled away from years of junk or from one terrible junk filled year. I’ve heard that many people gain two to three pounds over the holiday season and then don’t lose that weight. In one year, two pounds doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if you multiple two pounds times 30 years that means in 30 Christmases I’ll be 60 pounds heavier. Pass.
I’ve definitely had my joy widdled away in the past. A year in an awful job, years of infertility, the death of my sweet father-in-law, and an awful, traumatic experience a few months ago…while I’ve been able to have happy moments and see my many blessings through it all; these things have left my joy lack-luster and me worn out.
These things test us, they pile up, and widdle away our joy. We can’t let them. We need to remain close to our Lord especially in our darkest, most lonely moments. If you feel joyless, try working on your relationship with God. I’ve really been focusing on my relationship with God and I can honestly say I feel like I’ve finally gotten my sparkle back. Sure, I still have moments when I want to scream or cry, because my boys won’t stop screaming or crying. But, I feel that sweet armor around me, I feel rooted in His joy.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help. So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.” Psalm 28:7