My One Word 2012: Joy

Joy… sounds easy enough right? When was the last time you really, honestly, truly felt full of joy? Not happiness. Joy? Don’t remember? Yeah…. me either.

The task at hand was to decide who I wanted to become at the end of 2012. What type of person was I to be, what role models did I have for this type of person? Fun. Happy. Cheerful. Blessed. Positive. Delightful. JOYFUL. Joy, that’s it. I truly desired to be something that I am not, or at least have not been in a long time. Back when things were easy and life had not gotten in the way.

Life, the very thing God grants me to live abundantly in, had striped my JOY. And it was all my fault. I’m not sure how I missed its exit, I suppose it was a slow walk in the opposite direction. In the course of the, lets say, last 10 years or so, that Joy starting its journey out of my heart, I have been blessed beyond measure. God’s grace and goodness allowed me to survive college (no seriously), meet the man of all men to be God’s arms and flesh for me on this earth, the joyful little spawn of that union I call my son, a beautiful home to call my own, family and friends that I adore…. what is there not to be joyful about?

Until I stopped to really think about what was missing, I did not realize that it was joy. Sure I can be happy. I can laugh and have a good time. But my spirit has been a bowl full of tired and stressed with a nice big helping of worried on top. I truly believe that where worry is, joy will not be found. Have you ever met a joyful worrier? Yeah, me either. So if I want to worry less, I need more joy. It’s almost selfish to say that someone with so much to be grateful for can’t even enjoy it… But, don’t get me wrong, I’m in no ways depressed about this life I have been granted. I have just found myself in a place where it is hard to be happy because there is a to-do list sprinting through my head. I don’t know about you, but when I get exhausted, I tend to feel less healthy. And when I feel bad, I worry about my health. And when I worry about my health, I give the devil a foothold. When I give the devil a foothold, he is allowed into my mind, my already exhausted mind. That is no place I want to devil to stay very long. He could do some real damage. He knows that is my weakness, and as in Genesis 4:7, he is crouching at the door, waiting for me to get tired enough to stop and worry, where I don’t have the energy to fight back, and he attacks. But the hope of that verse is that I CAN rule over it.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “be joyful always.” As in ALWAYSSSSSSS. It doesn’t say, only when the kid is perfect, only when your husband reads your mind and takes you out for dinner so you don’t have to cook, only when you feel like you could run a marathon, only when all the laundry is folded, dishes are washed and you had time to shower… there are no exceptions in always. Always is defined 1.every time; on every occasion; without exception 2. all the time; continuously; uninterruptedly 3. forever 4. in any event; at any time ( Yeah…. so that hits pretty hard.

I chose that verse to be the one I mediate on for this year. It’s short, sweet and to the point. Be joyful always. When I worry… be joyful always… when I want to pull my hair out… be joyful always… when I want to get angry… be joyful always.

One slight problem: What is joy? How do I have real joy? I don’t mean the happy, fun-loving, side of joy… but Joy that is an expression of my heart, soul and mind? To be honest, I don’t know the last time I was full of joy. My wedding day, the day I finally met my baby boy, those are huge, joyful days. But I mean, joyful in the mundane every day life? Can you relate or am I hearing crickets?

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

You will fill me with joy in your presence. Where do I find joy? Everyone say it with me, IN HIS PRESENCE. Where can I meet Him in His presence? In His Word, in prayer, in worship. I can be filled with joy there.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. The joy of His salvation. The hope of glory. The redemption for my sins. I don’t think this necessarily is referring to the “church camp high” or “mission trip high.” If you have come off of a trip that has refreshed your soul, you know what I’m talking about. Restore to me that joy. What would it be like to live like that every day? I want to know.

Ironically, no divinely, my favorite Christian author released a new book in December called Choosing Joy. My sweet husband bought the book for me for Christmas. It is a 52 week devotional about discovering true happiness. I’m on week 5 now. It is rocking my soul and showing me new things about how to find, cling, and express the joy that comes from being in His presence. Afterall, joy is a fruit of the spirit. I want the spirit to be producing fruit in me. This year, I’m choosing God to do that work through Joy.

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Rejoice, the act of expressing joy (used 154 times in the Bible). Delight, to find joy in (used 105 times in the Bible). Joy the emotion of great happiness caused by something exceptionally satisfying (used 241 times in the Bible). Apparently, this topic is really important to our walk, wouldn’t you say?

Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 104:34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.

Psalm 13:5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.