“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”-James 1:2-3
“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”-Robert Louis Stevenson
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”-Henri J.M. Nouwen
“Do not let anyone or anything steal your joy.”-Linda Smith (my Mama)
Ya’ll ever have one of those days, weeks, months maybe where you feel your all out patience is being tested and you’re likely to lose your ever lovin’ pooh at the next situation which causes you any form of stress? (I hope at least one of you agreed with me–for everyone else I simply say….pffffttttttttt-tongue out and all.) I tease, but in all seriousness this time of year, the one in which we are to be frolicking through the snow on a one horse open sleigh while sipping hot chocolate under the mistletoe can actually be, overwhelming. For some the added stress comes by way of additional expectations we put upon ourselves to create this picture perfect Christmas. For others, the longing for a loved one may not necessarily put us in the best of holiday moods. While others feel the pressure to try their best and fulfill each and every Santa wishlist item, yet the money simply isn’t there.
A few months ago, I was talking to my Mom about Lord only knows–ya’ll have those types of conversations? Where you can talk about pretty much anything and everything and the conversation, while taking its fair share of detours, inevitably comes full circle? Well, in a nut shell, those are the types of conversations I share with my Mama. We can talk about the serious stuff and the not so serious stuff. Talk about emotions and feelings, as well as, who wore it best at the Oscars (it’s our Super Bowl). Sure, when I was growing up we butt heads often and were a far cry from the Gilmore Girls (yes, I like that show); but now, as an adult, our relationship has evolved into a friendship I love . My Mama allows me to vent, offers me sound advice, kicks me in the butt when I need that too, and has shown me a true demonstration of a strong and courageous woman. I really have amazing examples of powerhouse women to lean on when I need them ya’ll–I am one lucky lady. So, back to this day a few months ago–because if we get too serious and mushy ya’ll, oh man. So, my Mama and I are chatting away and I don’t know what I was venting to her about but her response stuck with me, “Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy.” I don’t even know what was bothering me at the time (shows how truly trivial it must have been seeing as I don’t even remember what it was) and she nailed it on the head. I am allowing some external nonsense to rob me of my joy. Key word here: allowing. I have given something or someone else so much power over me that it is causing a change to my mood; this change will have a direct affect on my behavior (less patience, quick to snap at someone, etc.), and those who I interact with thus will feel my crabby wrath. I am not saying there aren’t times when life is hard and you’ve been dealt one really difficult and downright crappy hand fully justifying being in a less than chipper mood; but what I am challenging you (myself included) to do is: find the joy.
The book of James (first quote) indicates that when we are being tested we should be joyful as the testing of our faith will produce perseverance. I don’t know about ya’ll, but when my patience is being tested by a willful 5yr old or the longer than usual line at the grocery store where I have inevitably chosen the line with the slowest cashier/bagger and the customer who has decided to buy every item in stock AND use coupons I am not necessarily finding the joy in the situation. When there is what feels like a mountain of laundry to be done, dinner to be made (and then cleaned up), no one can seem to find whatever it is they’re looking for and seeks me out at the most inopportune time (generally in the restroom)–nope not really feeling too joyful. But what I will encourage you, my friend, to do–again as well as myself–is to reflect and find joy in each day. So the 5yr old tested your limits–maybe when she is older this strong will and determination will help ensure she won’t be easily swayed into poor decisions. The grocery store is chaotic–we have the funds to go to the grocery store when others may not have the means. The laundry-we have clothing and a way to keep it clean; I have family members who value my opinion and want of my time.
I truly believe when we are feeling overwhelmed or vulnerable, Satan sees this as an opportunity to plant seeds of negativity. These seeds, this potential doubt, puts our joy at risk. He is very cunning and knows our insecurities and our fears and will use those against us to rob us of our joy like a thief in the night. I would like to challenge you to take a moment or two out of each day and reflect on the joys of that day. Your joyful moment doesn’t have to be this grand event; it can be something as simply as someone smiling at you on the street or holding the door for another person–just find the joy in each day. When our minds and hearts are in a good place, it’s amazing how you can positively affect those around you.
So, here is to each of us keeping our joy! Until next time…