A few years ago, I took my daughter Chloe on a three-day trip to Mobile, Alabama, for a combined birthday/high school graduation trip. She knew we were going but not the destination until minutes before we hopped on a bus in downtown Atlanta. The biggest treat in store for her — for both of us, really — was concert tickets to see one of our favorite bands at the historic Saenger Theatre.
I didn’t tell Chloe about the concert immediately. I love surprises and couldn’t wait to see her face when she discovered this one. We strolled around town the evening before the show and I even walked up to the front of the theater, thinking that might give it away, but she didn’t notice the poster.
Just hours before the show, I told her where I was taking her, and she was as excited as I’d hoped she’d be. We arrived early, bought our souvenirs, found our seats, and then walked around the beautiful old theater. We sat down and pulled out our phones, eager to notify the world where we were and what we were doing.
I noticed a couple in front of us trying to take a selfie, and I smiled at how happy they seemed to be there, just as we were. But when the concert began and we jumped to our feet, I realized how big the man in front of me was. I envisioned a night of shifting and straining to peek through the gaps and get glimpses of the stage.
I knew right then I could fixate on the challenge before me (literally) or decide to wring every drop of joy from a night I’d anticipated for four months.
I chose joy.
As it turned out, the guy in front of me may have been a big man but he was also a big fan. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone enjoy a concert so much. His enthusiasm was infectious, a contagious source of joy to those around him.
My daughter FaceTimed a friend when the band performed one of our favorite songs, and our happiness took wing, flying through the night and across the miles, back home to Georgia. The man next to us got such a kick out of Chloe’s friend laughing and dancing on the other end of that line, two friends sharing a moment and a song — joy multiplied.
In spite of the visual obstacle, I enjoyed this concert the most of the four times I’d seen this band.
At the hotel, we took the elevator with a different couple who’d been there too. The woman’s experience was the exact opposite of mine: total disappointment. Her problem wasn’t the performance but the company. She had sat in the balcony surrounded by less-than-avid fans, and it stole her joy.
Not only is joy contagious, but its absence leaves a void.
While we can’t control the people around us or our surroundings, we do determine how we react to things beyond our control. Choosing joy when anger or frustration comes easier takes both work and intention. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he instructed them to choose joy, which is only possible if its source is the Lord and not our circumstances:
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 (KJV)
Sisters, let’s not only choose joy but chase it too. What a brighter world we’ll leave in our wake if we open our hearts to true joy, let it fill us up, and then fling it wide into a waiting world.
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