What does joy mean? Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Now, please don't misunderstand this post... I'm not trying to say I'm better than anyone because I've been able to find joy through my situation or because God has done things in my life. It's only through Him and Him alone that I've been able to feel the way I have. Also, I know it's not possible, or healthy, to always be 100% happy. Life has its ups and downs... and everyone has those days that they just want to stay in bed and binge watch Netflix, myself included... but I've been realizing this last month that choosing joy is a lot easier than we may think.
I don't know what you're going through in your life right now... but here's a little bit of what's been happening in mine. In the last month, I've gone through a huge phase of transition in my life. There was a big disagreement between myself and my group of friends who had been my friends for 3+ years which resulted in the loss of those friendships, being removed from one of their weddings and me moving out of the apartment I was living in. I can say that yes, that situation hurt me... it's something I honestly thought would never happen. The big blowout of all of that happened right before my college's spring break. I stayed on campus for the first half of break and the first day that I was here I went to an event at a local church with my friend Karen. The speaker was Gayle Brostowski and one of the points that she talked about in her presentation was choosing joy. I took notes and it resonated within me that day, but I really didn't put it into practice until more than a week later. The first few days of break, I was honestly really depressed... I stayed in bed most of the time and really didn't do much other than go to work and do homework occasionally. Those were really dark days, being completely honest. I went home the second half of that week to an extremely sick puppy. It's a miracle that my puppy is still alive while I write this, she had a seizure the morning I left to come back to school from break.
Coming back from break... I honestly felt like I had no reason to be happy... I knew I had lost my friends, I thought I was going to lose my dog, I was stressed with school, I didn't know what to do. I looked in my journal and read the notes from Gayle over again and that's when it clicked in my head. Yes, my situation was pretty stinky at that time, but why was I letting the loss of those friendships depress me so much? Why was I allowing that to drag me down so much?
1) I wasn't trusting in God to handle my situation... I was trying to do it all myself.
2) I was choosing to let it drag me down, rather than choosing to have joy.
I made a decision that day... a decision to choose joy. A decision to not let the waves and currents of this life dictate my attitude and who I am. I decided to wake up every day and say "I am going to be joyful today" and honestly, it doesn't ALWAYS work. I still have my moments, I still cry, I still get confused and question... but making the conscious decision to be joyful has made a world of difference in my life.
Since losing those friendships, God has proved so faithful in my life, even through the trials, and my faith and trust in Him has been strengthened. He opened doors for me to have another apartment to move into, He's put friends in my life that I never would have seen coming but am so glad that they're there, He's rekindled old friendships that I missed so dearly to begin with, I've felt more like myself than I have in years, and honestly... I'm happy.
I'm happy with my life, and I don't remember the last time I could say that with so much confidence.
So tomorrow morning when you wake up, I encourage you to make a decision at the start of your day to choose joy throughout the day, regardless of the circumstances life may throw at you.
It makes more of a difference than you may think.