Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joy 101 (or maybe 102?)

Thus far, I've learned two very basic and blatant lessons about Joy:
  1. Joy needs to be intentional, and...
  2. Joy is a choice!
These may seem like no-brainers to you, and they were such for me in the beginning as well. But just because something takes "no brains" to comprehend, does not mean it is simple to live out!

Let me share some of my learning process with you...and let's look at a very real-life example (2-yr-old tantrums?) of choosing intentional Joy!

Intentional - (adj.) done on purpose, deliberate.
Joy is not the same as happiness. Through my own experience with Joy vs. happiness I have learned that happiness is fleeting, often shallow, and motivated by circumstances. Whereas, I have come to learn that Joy is lasting (when intentional), Joy has depth (when intentional), and Joy, regardless of circumstances, can be motivated through perseverance (when intentional).
Joy is not the same as happiness. Take a look at the grammar behind the words:
Happy - (adj.) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment, having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation).
Joy - (noun) a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, a thing that causes joy.
Happiness is an adjective, a word used to describe. Joy is a noun, something that can stand alone! 
But, just because Joy can stand alone, does not mean that is does stand alone. Not without intentionality! Joy must be deliberate! I can preach and blog and think positive thoughts about Joy until "the cows come home." But if I don't do something intentional and deliberate about choosing to be Joyful (my next point), all my blogging and whatnot will mean nothing! My Kairos moments will just look like fleeting happiness, until the next 2-year-old tantrum hits!Good intentions are just intentions until coupled with Choice!

Choice - (noun) an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
To Choose - (verb) pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives; decide on a course of action, typically after rejecting alternatives
Joy is about making a choice! Let's go back to the 2-year-old tantrums for a moment. Happiness says, "I'm happy my son is not throwing a tantrum." And when the tantrum hits, the happiness dissipates into frustration, anger, embarrassment, etc.  
Joy is an entirely different approach and choice! Joy says, in the midst of a tantrum, "Thank you God for my son. Thank you for his opinions and for his voice. Thank you that he is learning that he can choose one from another. Please give me patience and wisdom in directing my son to discern his choices as he learns to express his opinions within a godly character!" Joy is a choice! 
In reading this, please don't put me on a "Supermom" pedestal! Please do not judge me for being "idealistic" or living in a dream-world. Please do not assume that my son has no tantrums, or that his tantrums are "mild" by comparison! I can assure you, he can wail with the best of them! And please don't assume that I have this seemingly "oblivious" mentality each time my son hits a tantrum (which can sometimes be more than daily)!
The tantrums are not the point! The point is the intentionality of choosing Joy in every circumstance and letting the perspective of Joy re-align your focus!

Like I said in the beginning of this post - Thus far, I've learned two very basic and blatant lessons about Joy:
  1. Joy needs to be intentional, and...
  2. Joy is a choice!
These lessons are basic, but no less difficult to apply. These lessons are blatant, but no easier to remember in the midst of trial. These lessons I am learning, but I am no closer to "complete success."
But I can say...
I am more aware of my choices!
I am more aware of my intentionality! 
I am more aware of my Joy!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith (or patience, or humility, or trust, or love, or "parenting skills") produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~ James 1:2-3 (emphasis and parentheses added)
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:" ~ Lamentations 3:21 (emphasis added)

For those struggling through a current trial, I encourage you to read Lamentations 3, specifically focusing on verses 21-24 "His mercies are new every morning." And pray James 1:2 over your heart and mind - "consider it pure joy."

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