Friday, November 4, 2016

Choosing Joy - Part I

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to the Moms Together group at my church. This motherhood gig is harder than I ever imagined it would be, so I love sharing with and encouraging other moms!

One of the things I talked about was joy. Here’s my definition of joy:

Joy isn’t happiness, it’s choosing to be at peace with your purpose in your current season.

Happiness is a feeling based upon circumstances. Joy is an intentional choice to be at peace no matter your circumstances. Life is full of changes, so we’ll never feel happy all the time. But we can choose to be joyful.

This is much easier said than done. But what’s helped me is to identify the answers to these questions:

What steals your joy? 
What prevents you from being at peace in your current season?

(Before I answer in a three-part series, I want to interject some real-life application as we enter the holiday season. I feel like Halloween officially begins the crazy, wonderful flurry of activity in preparation for the holidays. Although this is a wonderful time of year, I think that along the way, we often lose our joy. Even amid many wonderful things, we can quickly feel joyless, depleted and defeated. So as you read through my answers, think about how they also apply to how we handle the holidays.)

One thing that steals my joy is comparison. Social media makes this all too easy for us, doesn’t it? While it’s fun to look at people’s pictures and read their status updates, it sometimes makes us think that our lives should look a little more like theirs. We can quickly forget to be grateful for what we have because we’re spending too much time looking at what other people have.

When I was a new mom, I constantly made comparisons with my friends. It seemed like they had it all together while I was struggling. I realize now that a lot of why I compared was insecurity and feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing. (Anyone else?)

While it is good to share with friends and ask for advice, ultimately we must remember to make choices that are best for our individual families. Nothing is one size fits all! A few years in, I finally came to the place where I realized I didn’t have to make the same choices as my friends. I stopped comparing and started supporting our unique differences.

The solution to comparison is celebration! When your friend’s child is better than yours at an activity, praise their child. When your neighbors go on a luxury vacation, wish them a great trip (and mean it!). When your coworker gets a promotion, congratulate her. When friends buy a new house, bring them a housewarming gift.  

God is the giver of all good gifts, so celebrate that He blesses us all in different ways and at different times. When we are the recipients of His generosity, don’t we want other people to genuinely celebrate with us? Whether we’re receiving or watching others be blessed, let’s be grateful for all that God gives to us.

When we find our joy slipping away because of comparison, let’s take a look around and be thankful and celebrate all that we have. Gratitude can change our attitude!

Here are two related posts from last year that I think you’ll enjoy:

Stay tuned next week for Part II!

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