Choosing Joy is not always the easy or natural response, but it is possible. These 4 Steps might help you.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
Can I be honest? This verse has always seemed to me like a reprimand, a scolding, if you will. Kinda like, “Eat your vegetables!” “Go clean up that messy room! or “Remember to hug your grandmother.”
It is one of those verses that can be glibly shared, leaving the listener to wonder, how in the heck am I supposed to rejoice when….?
There is honestly no magic pill to feeling joyful, but I’ve learned after 59 years of living that there are steps you can take that will set you on a path to feeling joyful, and it all starts with the determination to choose joy.
Admit it. Start by admitting and acknowledging your lack of joy. Tell your Heavenly Father just how you are feeling–sad, fearful, frustrated. He can handle you venting your emotions to Him. Tell Him, “God, I’m feeling very scared right now about…. and I need your help to get through this.” Many times I’ve told him, “I’m not very happy right now and I don’t even feel like praying, but I’m going to bring it to you anyway.”
Look for the gold. Gold diggers have to go through a lot of muck and mud to find gold nuggets. It would be easy for them to give up and say, “It’s so muddy, there’s no gold here!” But only those who keep sifting end up finding the gold.
Some days are like that. There’s a lot of muck and mud–frustration, sadness, pain–and you think there is absolutely nothing to be joyful about. That’s when you must take on the challenge of sifting through it all and finding that one thing, that one gold nugget that brings a smile to your face and reminds you that God does love you and that all hope is not lost.
Think Positive. This is such an over-used phrase and always sounds so trite to me. The directive to “Just think positive!” never helped me at all. But Scripture actually tells us to “think positive” in Phillippians 4:8: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Fix your thoughts means that you are very intentional about your thinking. You do not just let your mind wander down a negative path; you tell your mind what path to go down.
This can be done. But it takes resolve and discipline. You must choose not to rehash the negative stuff in your brain. You must choose not to rehearse your anger in your mind. When I find my mind going down that negative path–and I recognize it, because sometimes it’s way down the path before I even realize I’m there–I stop and say, nope, not going there, Lord help me to switch gears.
And He will. God’s good with stuff like that.
Record it. Get yourself a journal and write the good stuff down. In the book One Thousand Gifts, author Ann Voskamp tells of her own journey to learn to be grateful, and it started with her making a list of 1,000 things she was grateful for. That experience helped her to learn the habit of being thankful and that in turn led to choosing joy.
Choosing Joy This Christmas
Choosing joy doesn’t come easy or even naturally, but you do have an option to choose it. This season I hope that no matter what is facing you–the struggles, the challenges, the mountains–that God gives you the strength to Choose Joy.
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