Saturday, February 25, 2012

Define Joy


I didn't write this post, but I wish I did!  It was written by a brave young woman named Sara who battled disease for a long time and passed away in September.  Her writing spoke to me so much, and I hope it touches you as well.

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Joy is a big part of life... no matter how you define it or what brings it to you. I'm sure there are as many things that instill joy in people as there are people to describe it.
Maybe for you it's the smile on your child's face in the early morning hours when you walk in the room to lift them from their crib.
Maybe it's walking along the beach as the waves crash on the shore and seagulls make a choir in the distance.
Maybe it's pulling into a gas station where the price is below $3/gallon.
To each their own.
But here's a question: have you stopped long enough to figure out what brings you joy, define what that joy feels like to you and realize that, like everything in life, it can be a choice?
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I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn't forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn't joy... it's CHOOSE. It's looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it's that Pollyanna personified thing again... but living joyful beats being cynical any day of the week.
My friend Tam asks a lot of questions, both on her blog and in her emails... she peppers me with questions that nearly always make me stop to think before firing off a simple answer. I like that challenge. On her blog awhile back she posed the question: how would you define joy?
She didn't ask what brings you joy... she asked for it's definition. And I had to think about it for a bit. I tried to think of what REAL joy feels like to me... not the fleeting moments of happiness or elation, but that real, deep down, nothing can touch the lightness of my soul kind of joy. Here's what I decided for myself:
Joy: the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched.
That's what it feels like and means to me. Take a minute today to think about what joy is for you and then take it one step further. Take a moment to leave yourself a note... on your nightstand, on your bathroom mirror, by your computer... leave yourself a reminder to stop, take a deep breath and consciously choose joy today.
Trust me, it's worth your time.

1 comment:

Davey said...

Julie, I love your definition of joy. When I have to define it for class or whatever else, I say that it's contentment with our circumstances knowing that God's going to work it all out in the end. James tells us to "consider" it all joy, and the word literally means "to engage the mental process." I don't think he had a poor choice of words! It's not an emotion like happiness or sadness, it's a mindset knowing that God's in control and we find our peace in that!

-Davey