Joy is not my natural state. If I’m honest, I admit that worry comes much more naturally, especially since I became a mother. I used to think joy was something that would come to me if only . . . if only someone would do what I want of them, if only I were promoted, or if only I had more of what I wanted. But when I got to the other side of the “if only”, I may have been satisfied, but the feeling wasn’t one of joy. I have always experienced joy as a gift. It’s nothing I’ve been able to work for, but God has given me clues along the way as to how I might experience more of it.
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:7 (NIV)
I’ve learned it’s not possible for me to experience true joy when I’m focused on me. Joy is experienced only when I step outside myself and focus on the joy of others.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Finding joy takes discipline. That might seem counterintuitive, and it certainly was for me. But Jesus knew what joy was waiting for him, and that helped him endure the Cross.
We don’t have a cross to bear, but we do have plenty of opportunity to step outside ourselves and find joy. The easiest way for me has been to serve others. Any time I serve, even in the smallest way, I always benefit more than those I serve. The joy I receive seeing others be blessed far outweighs the joy of receiving anything other than God’s grace.
I also find that keeping track of those moments and my blessings helps me when I’m not feeling the joy as much. In those moments of joy, if I take a time to capture the feeling in writing, then I can go back to it on darker days The way I’ve done this is to keep a gratitude page in my journal.
Counting my blessings and serving others are the two consistent ways I know will bring me joy. What can you do today to experience joy in your heart?
About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management. Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University. Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.