Joy…. I sure have been hearing this word a ton lately… Joy, Joy, Joy… Chase Joy, Find Joy, Enjoy… everywhere I go… Joy.
I have resolved myself to the fact that joy is a word that I don’t think applies to my life. I really don’t even know what joy is anymore. So….. I had to look and be sure….
The dictionary definition of joy is “the emotion evoked by WELL-BEING, SUCCESS, OR GOOD FORTUNE: to delight…a state of happiness or felicity…a source or cause of delight.”
Well… I don’t have those things. The closest I have to joy right now is my delight in brownies… I really love them. Oh! And, coffee… with Hazelnut creamer. I do delight in that! However, I could give you a much longer list of things that do not bring me one ounce of joy. I would still be here tomorrow listing all those things. We do NOT want that!
And, don’t you find it funny when the Lord wants you to hear Him…????? He puts whatever the message is on BLAST! Everywhere you go, there it is… Joy…. Every book I pick up, every commercial (all those Hallmark Christmas movie commercials talking about JOY). Y’all…. even my stickers for my Happy Planner that I love sticking on everything known to man have “Choose Joy” stickers all in them. I just started sticking them anyway! Maybe I need to stick it to my forehead… maybe that would be helpful to me. Then, the LAST straw…. the very last one… I was in a meeting for WORK the other day and do you know what they wanted to talk about????? I know you are thinking I am lying right now…. but, the good Lord knows it’s the truth… JOY… ENJOY… How to get JOY… Seriously, it’s true.
I chose to ignore all that… all of it…! Then, yesterday, would you not know that my kid was having a rough day. And, it was only 8am! She was feeling overwhelmed with school and she said that her school choice did not make her happy. She had no JOY whatsoever in doing it because she didn’t feel she had everything under control.
I was thinking to myself that this has to be a joke. No way that this could possibly be happening to me right now and at 8am…! Was I going to have to give her the JOY speech that I just heard the day before? Was I going to have to share the books I had been reading… the Hallmark commercials???? And, was I going to HAVE to share my secret joy of brownies???? (NOPE! She already knows that as she has the same love for brownies that I do!)
But, you will never guess what happened. I started spilling it about joy and everything I have been reading, hearing, seeing…. It was one of my FINEST pep talks. I was very proud of it! Then, I realized as I continuously kept talking (HA! that happens with me a lot) that I was actually talking to myself. No doubt she heard the beginning but as I got warmed up and just firing off the pep talk, I look over and she is making crazy looking faces in her phone on Snapchat… such is life with a teenage girl…
So, I went on about my way thinking about my pep talk. And, I realized…. I have to CHASE JOY. It is not going to just come and find me. I have to intentionally CHASE it every, single moment of every day. So, where do I find this Joy? I have racked up the losses but I have no idea where you look for joy.
I began to pray while driving to work. Praying about the way I have messed everything up. I had gone too far this time…. There wasn’t a way back. I wanted God to know my losses were too great… (as if He doesn’t already know my losses). I reminded him that I had lost a child, lost my Mom, my marriage ended, friendships of many years had been destroyed. Where is the joy in that? I couldn’t ask for joy. I shouldn’t even be praying right now. I am sure it is bouncing off the ceiling of my car… I had really messed things up this time. And, I had been trying to get it all together so I could come back to Him and set things right. Then, I remembered something I read the other night… from an author… Mandy Hale in her book “Beautiful Uncertainty”.
She was talking about a toxic, abusive relationship that she had been in at one time. And, that relationship drove her to her knees like never before. And, then she wrote this, and I found it profound:
“God met me there – right in the middle of my hopelessness, sinfulness, and powerlessness – and He turned my life around. He became real to me. He didn’t wait until I’d cleaned myself up to intervene. He didn’t reprimand me before he redeemed me. And He also didn’t hand me a road map before we started our journey together. He simply stepped in, took the controls, and started to rebuild my life one brick and one miracle at a time, always calling me to greater levels of trust and faith and boldness. Not because I had all the answers, but because I had finally surrendered to the One who did.”
Wow! Shout out to Mandy Hale. I highly recommend every one of her books for all the single ladies out there! She reminded me that I absolutely cannot clean myself up enough to be all righteous and good before God. It isn’t going to happen. He HAS to be the One to CLEAN me up. He picks me up, treats and cleans my wounds, dusts me off and gets me back on my feet again. There is NO other way.
Then, and only then, can we start chasing joy. Counting up the good instead of focusing on the bad. Being grateful, being the giver, that is what brings us true, down deep in the soul, joy.
I know two of the greatest chasers of joy…. My Mama and Chandler. They ran after joy. They loved hard. They were the givers. The ones who had gratitude. Thankful hearts. They didn’t sit and think about all the negatives. They ran toward the joy that deep down, we all crave and want.
What a great time of year to be thankful? Even in the small things. The beautiful, changing colors of the leaves, my dog, coffee, brownies, my girls… (as you can see this is my personal list…) But, most of all, I am thankful for the One who comes to where I am and cleans me up from my messes. My wounds He treats daily. Some of which, a lot of which are self inflicted. It allows me to get up even though I live with constant pain and grief. It allows me to chase the joy that I truly do want in my life. And, it allows me to find ways to be the giver. I am learning when you are the broken, that being the giver heals.