22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…
What is the difference between joy and happiness? Gaio is the Greek root word for joy and it means great pleasure, rejoicing or happiness. Happ is the Old Norse root word for happiness and it means chance, fortune or good luck. This indicates to me that joy is more internal and happiness has more tied to external factors. If I am having a good day, doing a fun activity or things are going my way I am happy. Whereas, the circumstances of my life at the moment may be very tumultuous and yet I can still feel joy.
There is a quote by Tim Hansel that says, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.” This seems to indicate that we have no control over our circumstances but we do have a choice in whether we will seek and allow joy in our lives even during these circumstances.
I have loved studying the life and teachings of Paul this year! Now there is a guy who did not have a lot of fortune or good luck! And yet Paul seems like such an optimistic soul. He was constantly encouraging the saints through his letters and talking about running the good race and finishing well. What allowed him to be so joyful even when his circumstances were less than ideal? I believe this was possible because Paul was firmly anchored in Christ. He understood that joy was a fruit of the Spirit. The closer we are to the Spirit the better we are partnered with Him or yoked with Him the more naturally we are a joyful people. We have all met people who have had horrible things happen to them and yet they seem so happy and we wonder… How can this be? I am willing to bet that the majority of them have figured out how to meaningfully connect with the Spirit on a regular basis. They have learned to trust God with their lives. They have learned that life can still be joyful when they keep an eternal perspective and make Christ their treasured friend.
I love this quote by Pope Francis:
“Who gives us joy is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit Himself who guides us; He is the author of joy, the creator of joy. And this joy in the Spirit gives us true Christian freedom. Without joy we cannot become free. We become slaves of our sadness.”
So how do we choose joy in our lives on a daily basis? I will share some of the things I have found that help me to feel joy. You may find relate with some of them as actions that bring you joy or maybe you have some completely different things that help you choose joy. I encourage you to spend some time thinking about what brings you joy and commit to do at least one thing today.
*Connect with the Divine: When I take time to connect with my God I feel joy. Some of my holy habits include prayer, immersing myself in the scriptures, and taking time to ponder on His love for me. One of the most pivotal things I have found I need to do for connection is to create a space of silence. When I turn off the background noise of my life I allow the Spirit to communicate with me. I can hear His comfort, direction, warnings, and confirmations so much more clearly. When I feel this connection I feel joy. Another way I can feel my spirit connect with heaven is through uplifting media. I love how music can help me feel tethered to God. There are so many beautiful songs out there that can do exactly this. I also love listening to inspirational talks or reading books that ignite a fire in me to do better and be better. These are all great ways to boost joy.
*Remember and Itemize: There is something to be said for counting our blessings. It may seem a silly thing to do, but actually using a paper and pencil to write out all the wonderful things in our lives can do wonders to remind us of how very blessed our lives are. It is also a very rewarding exercise to think back on times in our lives that were hard, the fact that we survived them and all the things we learned from these times. It is good to see the hand of God as we were immersed from those situations and much easier to see in retrospect. I feel joy when I remember that my record for making it through hard things intact with God’s help is in fact 100%
*Serving in Love: Sometimes I take for granted my opportunity to serve my family. Sometimes I may even grow resentful. But I find that when I can add gratitude to my service by remembering how blessed I am to have these people who need me it is much easier to do my required tasks with an increase in love. When I feel this love it brings me joy to serve.
*Association with Friends: I am very much an extrovert! When I take time to connect with a friend either in person, on the phone or even through texting I find my joy renewed. I love conversations that refresh, renew and validate. I love doing the same for the friends I visit with. When I feel my battery drained and my energy level coming close to rock bottom I know a visit with a friend will increase my joy and bring these levels back to a healthy place.
*Interrupt Negativity: It is so important to be conscious of what thoughts we are giving center stage in our mind. If we notice that we are headed down a negative path we can intentionally interrupt these thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations, a better idea, a song, a quote, or a scripture. When we control the thoughts we have and only allow positive internal energy we can increase our level of joy. Remember we were made to be joyful!
*Creating: There is nothing that beats the joy of using the gifts and talents that have been given to me when I artistically create something! We have all been given different abilities by our loving Father to bless our lives and the lives of others. I love to create flannel board stories that help others teach their families a love for the scriptures and how to better anchor in Christ. I love to write. I love to bake. I love to create earrings out of clay. There are so many different ways we can create. If you have not found yours yet I challenge you to embark on a journey of exploration until you find it. You will be amazed by the amount of joy creation can bring!
Soul Searching Question: What is one thing you can do today to increase your joy?
Joy by for KING & COUNTRY
Face to Face with the Author:
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