‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.’
(Psalm 126:3 NIV)
As children of God we are beloved & truly blessed. God has done great things for us & filled our hearts with joy.
We should be forever grateful- & I am.
It’s just sometimes I don’t live as though I am.
We humans can feel truly grateful with an attitude of gratitude one day (Thanksgiving) but frantically shopping for things we don’t really need less than 24hrs later (Black Friday)
Our thankful thoughts can disappear like Irish Mist. All too often our joy-filled feelings don’t last long.Actually & regrettably, I can feel utterly miserable- even though I have been blessed with an abundance of material & spiritual blessings by our Heavenly Father.
This post is first & foremost a note to myself, a memo to my soul. But maybe it’ll resonant with you too.
For, in this journey of life, we all encounter joy-snatchers.
That phrase triggers an image of the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- poised to snatch with his net! Now I’m smiling thinking of Neuschwanstein Castle where the scene was filmed!
But back to the point…
What are joy snatchers?
AKA listening to ourselves & the running commentary in our mind. Brene Brown writes about the stories we make up & accept as truth. But they AREN’T actually true & steal our joy.
Jam-packed days & weeks can exhaust us & sap our joy, to the point that we feel like we’re running on empty. Or like an overpacked suitcase we can feel under immense pressure-like we’re about to explode.
Even when we are surrounded by abundance, we can develop a bad attitude & complain. Just like the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power & outstretched arm of Almighty God. Despite manna raining from heaven, & water gushing from rock, they complained that they were better off in slavery in Egypt. We can choose a negative perspective that displaces joy.
Disconnecting from God
Jesus said,“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
(John 15:10-11 NIV)
Our joy stems from an obedient relationship with God:
‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
(Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)
Jesus also said ‘Apart from me, you can do nothing’ (John 15:5)
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
It’s not just coveting material possessions but rather the lives we perceive others live. I compare my God-given assignment to others. I look at others who don’t appear to have stress in their work lives. I estimate that they’re not under as much pressure as I am.(Another story I tell myself)
But what we see of other’s lives is often just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, everyone has their own trials to deal with.
If, rather than packing our troubles in an old kit bag we threw them up in the air along with everyone else’s,we might be very relieved if we caught our own!
‘Worry is a waste of the imagination’
We know in our heart that worry is a joy stealing waste of time & energy.
But once I board that train of thought, it feels impossible to step off & I arrive at worst case scenarios.
Of course we all have legitimate responsibilities & concerns:
‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’
(Luke 12:48 NIV)
Having joy is a choice. Remaining joyful is a decision.New York Times best selling author Brendon Burchard wrote:
‘And then one day I decided that hurry & stress were no longer going to be part of my life. Stress is self-created; I decided to stop manufacturing it. We can choose an internal calm & joy even amid the chaos’
How can we hold onto joy?
Embrace your true self
‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life’
Be who you are created to be!
Find joy in the ordinary
‘Have an attitude of gratitude’
(Thomas S Monson)
Literally list your blessings if it helps!
‘We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so that the best of who are can emerge.’
Carve space in the chaos & allow yourself room to breathe. Create margin
Focus on positive points-in people & places.
Reach out toward others, rather than dwelling on yourself.
‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.’
(Philemon v7 NIV)
Ask ‘How can I be a blessing today?’
Connect with others who are on the same page
I can vividly remember cautiously walking into the Mums & Tots group in the village where we lived when Caris was a small baby. I knew no-one. But through that weekly group, I made deep friendships with mums at a similar stage. They were there for me through tough times, & gave me some of their joy when mine had ran out.
Unplug from toxic relationships
People whose persistently negative attitudes deeply affect us can snatch our joy repeatedly. If we allow them.
We can get into unhealthy patterns.
But, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got’
There may need to be necessary endings – as Dr Henry Cloud wrote.
Last but most importantly:
Prayer is the glue that holds our life together, the super-glue that actually holds us together.
It’s a conversation with the Source of True Joy.
It’s the antedote for worry.
‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
This week remember:
‘Joy is portable- bring it with you’