Choose Joy

Aug 12th 2010

So here’s a question…  Did you ever someone who was always joyful?  joy_ornament01There was lady at our first church in Minnesota, her name was Patty. She was always smiling, when we were leaving Minnesota to move to State College, she and her husband were helping us pack…and we had this really nice mirror on our dresser in our bedroom.  She came out of the house with a sweet smile on her face. “O Lynn, you know that beautiful mirror you have in your bedroom. We broke it.” Lynn thought she was kidding. “O Patty your such a joker.No Lynn,” she said — with the smile still radiating — “We broke it.”  I don’t know if Patty was always joyful, but she was always smiling.

Did you ever know someone who was always joyful? We tend to call them naive or newlyweds. We say, just wait. Joy is not a very cool word. It’s only three letters. It doesn’t make the top 100 baby names. The only time you hear it in a song is at Christmas. But joy is a key Biblical theme.  In fact it would be easy to argue from the Bible that joy is at the heart of God’s plan for humanity.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 19:8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. Jesus words in John 15:11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

Recently in a blog post, Seth Godin was talking about emotions.  (Places We Go)  He made the following comment…

Occasionally we encounter emotions at random. More often, we have no choice, because there’s something that needs to be done, or an event that impinges itself on us. But most often, we seek emotions out, find refuge in them…

He goes on to suggest that we can actually choose the emotions to which we run… that emotions are not only thrust upon us, that emotions are not only a by-product of our circumstances or our perceptions, but that we can actually choose our emotions.  And in fact the more often we choose to run to a particular emotion, the more “addicted” we get to that emotion.

Can we choose joy?  Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say it, rejoice!

I’m working on this one.  I have to be honest, if it is possible to choose joy — and I believe it is — I don’t always do it.  I almost always tell my children that they choose their attitudes, but I don’t always choose joy.  Sometimes I choose anxiousness.  Sometimes I choose to be moody or dejected.  Sometimes — but rarely — I even choose cynicism.  Sometimes I choose joy, even when it’s difficult choice, but not always.

Two things that help me choose joy are practicing the discipline of gratitude and reminding myself that in the end my story is good news. (See Bad News Good News).

So…try it out this week…choose joy.