Have you ever looked around the room and visibly seen the joy on the faces of those around you? Have you ever felt like the only one in the room that didn’t have joy?
I’ve been there. Many times.
I have seen beautiful people, filled with joy and envied them. I have watched families go through tragedies and still manage to have joy.
And then, I’ve thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t always a fluttering bird full of joy.
I thought that God created other people for joy, but not me. And when I heard “the joy of the Lord” at church it felt so foreign.
I don’t tend to have favorites. I don’t have a favorite sports team, a favorite book, a favorite song, a favorite band, a favorite outfit. I just don’t. I have a lot of things I like, but in most things I don’t pick a favorite and run towards that full of enthusiasm. I’m cautious, inquisitive, look at the big picture, realistic. I always thought my problem with joy stemmed from those personality traits.
When my daughter Sadie spent 7 weeks in the NICU, I found it even harder to have joy. I was thankful that she was going to come home with me but there was so much more to it. So many unknowns, so many obstacles to overcome. I was angry for her. When I thought about the feeding tube in her stomach, the therapy sessions every week, the delays, the abnormalities, joy was the last thing that came to mind.
I lived in a world of fog for several months. Trying to be happy on the outside while the storm raged inside of me. Everyone told me how happy I should be that all things considered she was doing so well. I was grateful, but not joyful. I spent her first year telling God how unfair he was.
Around her first birthday, something clicked in my heart. She’s here with us. Yes, what we went through with her was traumatic. I can choose to let my heart wallow in the trauma and keep reliving it, or I can choose joy.
All the people I’ve ever seen that had joy weren’t made in a way that made them more prone to embrace joy. They have made the decision to choose joy.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
I have learned the truth in this verse. My spirit was crushed and it made me an unhappy, miserable person. Choosing joy has made me feel better in so many ways. I can look at life with a clearer lens. Is every minute of every day a joyful one? No. There will always be difficult times and difficult situations.
When I’m frustrated, I’m choosing joy. When I’m discouraged, I’m choosing joy. When I’m sad, I’m choosing joy. When life is out of my control, I’m choosing joy. When things are going well, I’m choosing joy. When I’m happy, I’m choosing joy.
God wants us to be joyful.
We are able to have joy because of him. If you try to shut him out, you’re also shutting out the joy that he offers, along with so many other things.
I bought a necklace with a charm that says choose joy. I wear it as my reminder to choose joy in all circumstances. Are you choosing joy? What is your reminder if you have one?