The times in my life I’ve been the most joyful, it hasn’t really been a choice.
It has been against my will.
People say that love is a choice and I’m confident that’s true. And I guess that joy can be a choice in the same way. For example, I choose joy over self-pity, happiness over sullenness and delight over disdain.
Yes, sometimes joy is a choice.
But more often for me, joy has often been a symptom.
This is the kind of joy when the lady in the candle store asks me why I’m smiling. The kind of joy that makes me truly care about how the barista’s afternoon is going. This kind of joy oozes and bubbles over but not in a way that makes you bite your back teeth because it’s too sweet. No, because it’s real.
It’s part of me.
This is the kind that remains even when I know that my husband is wrong, when I have a difficult morning with my preschooler, when I’m alone, left out, and broken.
Joy is a symptom of the heart.
It’s like when a baby laughs and her whole face carries the joke – as if she doesn’t know what else to do with her smile. It has to erupt through her face because her heart is laughing.
That kind of joy doesn’t come easily. It’s not as simple as a choice.
It comes with the hard work spent devoting a heart in submission to God. It comes with the discipline of waking up each morning and handing over a selfish life to a God who desires selflessness. Joy like this is a symptom, an overflowing of a heart that walks in close intimacy with a Creator.
I have to be honest and say that I don’t have that kind of joy today. But I remember what it feels like. I remember what the smile tastes like on my lips and I remember what made my heart leap.
I can choose joy for right now, but to have it in a lasting way I must mend my heart.
Joy comes from,
A heart that is solid.
A heart that is directed toward heaven and not earth.
A heart that seeks the best from each day.
Joy can be a choice. But the best joy is the symptom of a heart that’s full of it.What do you think? Do you agree?Leave a Comment
Thank you…I needed to read this today. I know that love is a choice, but I never thought about joy being a choice too. It makes sense and gives hope because I can choose God over my feelings.
This really made a difference in my morning. Especially the line, “I have to be honest and say that I don’t have that kind of joy today. But I remember what it feels like.” Thank you so much for sharing!
Wow! I so totally agree. I’ve not heard it explained this way but it really makes a bunch of sense.
I agree completely. May my heart be completely mended so I can be full of joy, no matter what the circumstance.
I have to admit that I don’t have that kind of joy these days either. And for exactly the reason you named….I’m not really choosing to in spite of my circumstances. It’s been easier lately to just push aside my need to get my heart right and keep it that way and instead just wallow in the misery of everything that’s going wrong. Which of course just ends up making things so much worse!
Thank you for this post today. It was a blessing and an encouragement. Because I know deep down that it’s true.
Bomi Jolly says
I agree…. and I choose Joy!! Thank you so much.
Tammy C says
Due to certain circumstances, many times I have felt that my joy has been stolen from me, but after reading your post, I am beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe, my joy has not been stolen from me, but instead hidden from me and from those who are closest to me. It is up to me to earnestly search for it…to cherish it….to safeguard it. Thank you for your post….it was truly moving.
I think you are right. I went through a difficult time when I was angry with the Lord and couldn’t even pray. I thought there would never be joy in my life again. In time, I was able to surrender the circumstances to Him; to walk back to the only place I could really be. To my surprise there was not just that peace that passes understanding – there was joy. The circumstances had not changed, but my heart had.
Thank you for this beautiful, honest devotional.
I think your right when you say joy is not as simple as a choice. It IS hard work – it does come with the emptying out of the yuck of sin and the filling up with God’s mercy. I love how you said “it comes with the discipline of waking up each morning and handing over a selfish life to God who desires selflessness… an overflowing of a heart that walks in close intimacy with a creator” When I am in this discipline, I DO have joy – even in the chaos and unfairness of life. Because my joy is in something beyond myself and beyond this “now”. And that is hopeful.
I love your people.