Monday, May 18, 2009

Seeing joy in every day...

Seeing joy in every day is something I've been intentional about as part of a new Biblestudy I'm doing online with some girlfriends. It's such a simple concept, but not always easy to do. What I have noticed this past week is that children are so good at it! My little Ava has more joy before breakfast than I do in my whole day most of the time!
Watching my kids and the way they get excited over the smallest things- like an unexpected bag of mini powdered donuts on Saturday morning, or seeing ducks waddle down the street in our neighborhood or even laughing when someone says something funny* that wasn't intended to be funny- these things make me wonder where there joy comes from? [*That was Ava too. The Pink Panther cartoon came on our tv and she said in a very loud voice, "Oh! I love this one because it's pink!" We all laughed at her- she's charming like that sometimes.]
I know that joy comes from many things, but sometimes I lose sight of joy in the every day. Just this week I've seen it in the little things. It's a wonderful thing- no matter what age we are.
So, for the sake of my own mind wrapping around the concept of joy, I am listing valid reasons for joy in life. Feel free to add to my list in the comments. I'd love to see where you experience or notice joy in your own life too!
1) Joy comes when we know we are secure.
This is the first thing I noticed about joy- especially as a I watch my kids. Crew is happy when I am holding him or when he is familiar with his surroundings. His mood gets much more serious when someone else tries to hold him that he doesn't know (like at church) or when he is somewhere new (like the grocery store). He isn't at ease when he's not secure.
In my other kids I see those same traits- it's hard to be joyful when you're not sure of the people or places around you. I think as adults it's true too.
We get hung up and can't experience joy as easily when we are unsure of a relationship or feeling unsure about finances or job situations or have health concerns. In order to be able to experience joy, it seems to be that we must first feel secure.
I think that's why knowing who we are in Christ- that we are saved from sin and eternal death- is the most important step toward having real joy. Once we know we are loved and forgiven and have the hope of Heaven, our circumstances and relationships can't steal our joy. It is through Christ that we can have joy- even when life throws us curveballs.
2) Joy can happen anytime, anywhere.
I think kids do this best too. They are so much better about just living in the moment and taking life as it comes. Bathtime can be a full-blow happy event, whereas for most of us, personal hygiene is something that we just have to keep up. It' sometimes the one thing that wakes us up in the morning- that hot shower is your jumpstart for the day- not something you jump out of bed all excited for. The more we do things then, it seems we lose sight of the 'joy' that is in those things. We take a lot of really wonderful things for granted too. I've noticed that being grateful for little things each day helps me see that there is a lot more joy around me that I just don't take advantage of often enough. Joy is there for the taking!
3) Joy is a choice.
Just as I said there is so much we take for granted, well, we have to acknowledge blessings in order to experience the joy in them. I've been working on this for a long time and have actually come to like doing loads of laundry most days, because they serve as reminders that I am lucky to have so many great people in my immediate life. I blow it so many times too- letting a whole day be "ruined" at times over something trivial. I am trying to remind myself in the heat of "big drama" in and around my home to let things go, and in so doing, there is more chance for joy to show itself again.
4) Joy is different for each of us.
What brings me joy may not be what brings you joy. That's okay too. I am getting better at knowing what my kids love and sometimes letting them 'break a few rules' having whipped cream out of the can at breakfast... is perfectly fine. It's a great joy for them. I find that joy in others often brings me joy too.
Editing photos and playing around creatively brings me joy- so I spent some time on and the pictures of Ava here today are the result. Chip would rather play a golf Pro-Am and that doesn't mean one of us is better or wrong than the other. It's in fact, what makes us all unique and special. Knowing what brings joy to the people around you is a great help at birthdays, in times of need, or just to turn an ordinary day into something extra special.
5) The world will zap our joy if we allow it the opportunity.
It's so much easier to get dragged down with the news headlines and demands from our daily lives than it is to be filled with joy each day. How many times can one little negative comment stick with you and affect your mood for a whole day?! You oftentimes don't have to do anything and you can get depressed or discouraged or down- about petty, insignificant things too. But to counter that it takes effort and energy. Joy doesn't seem to come naturally, even though so much of it is free and based on attitude and choice. I have to stop and think about it or as I said, choose it, or even create it, in order to experience it.
But the good news is that Joy is always available.
It is always good for the heart and soul.
It turns the darkest days into days worthy of dancing.
It is simple, beautiful and free.
I'm challenging myself to try and live with more Joy.
It can make all the difference in the world.
Now it's your turn... what do you know to be true about joy in your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Anonymous said...

I think that sometimes you have to work really, and I mean really hard to be joyful. Maybe it's related to your other 5 things about joy. But most of the time I feel so Ok to not be full of joy. Surprisingly as it may sound, many times I want to be un-joyful. Not sure why. But I do. Not that is hard to find things to be grateful for, but I am many times too tired or bored or just don't feel like it. So I get a straight face. But I noticed over the last couple of months that I am very responsable of other people's joy. So if not for me, I like to be joyous for them. But, guess what? Sometimes I don't feel like doing that either. But when I do chose to do it anyway, it's a win-win situation. People around me like better to be around a joyous person rather than a not-so-joyous one (and who wouldn't?). And I get my joy from other people's joy. It is soooo hard at times to find the little things that make your day. It's hard even to look after them. But the most precious things come after you look very careful for them. And I want to joy. All I have to do is to get it out of my "attic", whipe the "dust" from it and enjoy it.

Caren said...

Wow... THANK YOU so much for your message today. It truly hit home. With so much negativity in the world...why not look for the little things just to make our day better. I doubt you meant that everything in every day was 100% joyful...just happier! Thanks again.

jnh0404 said...

I loved your message today. After going through a tragedy a few years ago, I feel like I have had to "learn" how to be joyful. As crazy as that sounds...
I think people, myself included, wait for joy to come as a result of something happening, but as you so smartly point out, joy is a "state of mind." Not a result... Thanks for the uplifting message!

Anonymous said...

What a great post Jody! I find that Joy is something that takes a concerted effort to keep at the forefront and not allow the negativity of todays world to bring it down. Ways I do this varies from making sure I make time for ME. At the end of the day, after working and keeping up a single parent household with kids, pets, and just all the demands of LIFE, I am wise to do something for me...even reading in bed while sipping a cup of tea is JOYFUL if we allow ourselves to relax and just be in that moment. As women, I think we are always so giving of ourselves and worrying about everyone elses needs that we sometimes lose ourselves in the mix. But it's important not to do this, and to take care of ourselves FIRST so that we are stronger and can give to others in a more productive way. There's great truth to the saying "If Mom ain't happy, then nobody's happy"!

Erin Saeger said...

I so needed this reminder today. My whole family thanks you.

Dana said...

I did a blog post yesterday about "finding your own happiness" so when I opened Google Reader this morning and read this post, I had to grin. It made me happy.

Kacie said...

I hav ebeen thinking about this exact thing... thanks for your words.

Jan Connair said...

This post reminds me of an awesome book, which I think you would really enjoy. (If you don't have time to sit and read, borrow it from the library on audio.) It's called "Stargirl," by Jerry Spinelli. And it's about joy.

darcie said...

We sure can learn a lot from our children can't we?
Awesome post. Awesome reminder.

melissa said...

Thank you for this post. We need to be reminded daily that JOY is an option. I have been feeling so monotoned lately and I just need to figure out what really makes me feel joy. I have shifted energies and feel like I am floating a little too high above my ground. NOT feeling secure as you said.. so Joy is something I am not familar with as of late.

Thanks again

Joanie said...

WOW! I love reading your thoughts and messages to us really make me re-evaluate myself at times and appreciate who I am and what I want to be!
Every morning...(for the past month) I pop over here with my cup of coffee and laptop and I find JOY and inspiration from YOU! I'm so glad I happened upon your blog....I want to give you a little JOY's a blog award for INSPIRING me daily!

Please post it on the side of your blog!!!!! Have a great Wednesday!

Chantelle said...

Reminds me of Mandisa's song "Never Gonna Steal My Joy"! :)

Jeanette said...

You just always have the best things to say, Jods. This has really impacted me. Thanks for your awesome heart and for being in my life. I treasure you more than you'll ever know.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Well said...I would add that there is a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is definitely a choice...there is an abiding joy that comes from the Lord that we can rest in...even under difficult circumstances. As I can see from your journey, you understand and know this abiding joy, well.

Praying continued joy and peace...and most of all sufficient grace for you...

Kelly Gerken
Sufficient Grace Ministries

Abbie said...

I too try to keep my source of joy in Jesus - not the little things that I often let "ruin" a day. And I have two girls who dance and make me smile, which often leads me to remember the true source of joy!