I remember this moment from almost ten years ago as though it were yesterday.
I was sitting on a crowded stretch of grass opposite my best friend, surrounded by hundreds of gorgeous women all attending Colour Conference in Sydney. I remember so clearly in that moment feeling as though I had simply lost all joy. My life had changed so much in the previous two years (for better). It was heading in the direction I knew I longed for, yet I felt I had lost ALL joy.
I remember sobbing all over my morning tea picnic while pouring my joyless sorrows out onto my friends lap. (all the while noticing how everyone around us stretched out on the grass seemed so happy!!!) And as all best friends do, she patiently listened, lovingly empathised and then ensured me that I absolutely would find my joy again soon.
JOY. I knew I didn't have it. But how was I to find it? I had no idea where to start looking or what to look for. If you were to ask me to define 'joy' back then I would likely have cried harder because I realised I really had no idea what could bring me joy in that moment!
So I went about looking for it in all my doing. I looked for it in a new career. I looked for it in friends and new acquaintances. I looked for it in my home. I looked for it on my phone (really?!?!) Sometimes I'd feel like I'd found it, yet after a short while I'd somehow lose it again. How was I ever going to find it AND ensure I could keep it?
Fast forward ten years, and many short lived attempts at this quest called "finding joy", and I have come to understand my problem. I was approaching my search for JOY in all the wrong ways.
I am happy to say I have solved the puzzle around finding 'joy' which I'd love to share with you here.
Lets start by defining it:
Merriam Webster dictionary defines JOY as:
a feeling of pleasure or happiness that comes from success, good fortune, or a sense of well-being.
1828 Dictionary defines it as:
a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present good or assured approaching possession of a good.
mmm. so JOY is a feeling, a delight of the mind (a thought).
This was my 'light bulb' turning point. If I know that thoughts lead to feelings, and a thought is something I get to choose, then what if JOY is something I can decide to choose rather than something I need to find.
What if JOY is NOT a 'thing' I can go and find. What if it's not something that hides somewhere, only to show itself to a lucky few, before going into hiding again?
Suddenly I see that JOY is not something to find. Rather it is a choice. It is a lifestyle that you and I are well able to choose. We get to choose our thoughts. We can choose to focus on rejoicing, thanksgiving and praise... (even when it's hard work and we just don't feel like it...) What if we were to choose joy-filled thoughts every day and practice this over and over until it becomes our default? ... Suddenly I'm reminded of this childhood song "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!" mmm maybe there is some wisdom to those words after all!
So I did some further exploring and this is what I found.
Your emotions and feelings don't need to control your life. You do actually have control over your feelings! Behind your feelings and thoughts are beliefs. You get to choose what to believe. When you choose to fill your soul with God-thoughts, focussing on His goodness, grace and love, aligning your mind with His Word, then JOY will be inevitable. And so it comes as no surprise to me when I open my bible to Psalm 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more."
So friend, I invite you to give it a go:
Pause for a moment. Intentionally focus on thinking and speaking about the goodness of God. Think about the fact that He is always with you, that He knows you better than you know you, that He will always love you (no matter what you do), that He has great plans for you, that nothing is impossible with Him, that You have eternal life in Him..., when you intentionally focus on thinking about all these things, notice how your feelings are affected. For me, I know that when I think on these things, joy most certainly fills my heart!
Let me know how intentionally focusing your thoughts on Gods truth impacts your thoughts and feelings this month. I'd love to hear from you. If this is something you struggle with, or something you'd like help with, I'd love to partner with you so that you too can choose joy in your life! Click here to connect >>