I’m going to be real frank for a second here. Coming from a person with high expectations on literally everything… life doesn’t always go as planned!
Whether it’s work, friends, family or heck eating carrots all week and your pants STILL fitting too tight.. we have so many daily factors working against us which results in too many angry, grumpy and downright shameful people in this world. The devil creeps up in us to start whispering lies and guess what? We believe them. “I should be mad. I should be angry. I deserve to feel this way.” What we all need a little more of is JOY.
How do we do this? We have to actually choose it sometimes! Life is not always going to be puppies eating funfetti cake on the beach. (Who can’t be happy with that?) One of the easiest ways to explain my thoughts to you is a little “TMI” but I am here to be vulnerable and as real as possible. When it comes to that time of month… Yes, the time of month where my husband wears a bullet proof vest around the house. (Figuratively of course, although I wouldn’t put it past him.) I tend to have to constantly fight the devil on my shoulder telling me to be ANGRY! When I say angry I mean annoyed, irritable, grumpy, emotional and irrational. Sometimes I just want to scream at my toast for not being crunchy enough when I definitely put the timer on long enough! The devil inside me screams, “Do I REALLY have to heat the toaster all over again? Now it’s going to be burnt!” It is a trial every month that I have to ignore the emotions and remind myself to just choose joy. I set a reoccurring reminder in my phone around that week that says “be careful, choose joy!” This reminds me I may be moody for NO REASON AT ALL. Most of the time I will also warn/apologize to my husband that I am feeling irrational and trying hard to beat it. It also cues him that I may not be in the joking mood as normal to avoid confrontation. (Ya’ll, I call this being real. It is ok to be vulnerable and acknowledge your downfalls and especially to your significant other. You do not have to hide behind it, make excuses, or deflect it. I think too often we feel like we have to be perfect and our actions because of it make us weaker.) Then, I attack the feeling every time it bubbles up in me so I don’t use it as an excuse but as an effort to choose joy instead. If I don’t acknowledge it, then I let the toast be a bigger deal than it is and end up looking (and feeling) quite silly after.
Being aware of your trial is a crucial part of choosing joy in it. If we are oblivious to the struggle we are in, how do we filter our actions, words and thoughts within it? Of course, this was a more “fun” example. I have to literally choose joy in much more real situations. Trials come in many shapes and sizes and vary depending on the stage of life you are in. My friends, it is not easy! However, the feeling you can get out of it is so rewarding and growth can be unbelievable! I had to choose joy and thank Jesus for everything while my mom was in surgery and we didn’t know if she would survive! It was so scary to have no control on her situation but so comforting knowing I was in control of my emotions. I am not saying I am super women by any means. I asked the Lord to work in me and I was not abandoned! I came out of the situation so much stronger and seeing life much more differently. My small mini trials practicing daily sure do help when those large trials come.
Steps to choosing JOY in your trials.
1. Be aware of your trial. Whatever has caused you to feel challenged, acknowledge it. Whether you are feeling, angry, mad, emotional, tested, challenged, be aware of it so you can start filtering your thoughts and actions.
2. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! We alone cannot do it. Ask to be relieved of your feeling and help you through your trial. Tell him that you want to choose joy and may be struggling to do so. Tell a friend or family member. Sometimes it helps me to say it out loud that way I can be held accountable and have encouraged support.
3. Take a deep breath. I have found that when I am heated or feeling negatively, if I just step away my feelings subside a bit. This way I can make a more rationalized response. Respond, don’t react! (Now if only my 10 year old “back-talking” self could have learned this then, I would have had many more grounded-free weekends. Sorry Mom!)
4. CHOOSE IT! Choose to feel the JOY despite what your inside-entitled-self is telling you to feel. Ignore the lies that you should feel negatively and that you are RIGHT to feel it. I have found that most times I choose to be negative is because I don’t want the other feeling/person to “win.” This is not a healthy response. You CAN ignore it and be a happier person. We cannot control everything that happens in our lives and how others around us act, but we can control how we respond. You are in control of your emotions. It slowly will start creating a shield around your own happiness where you won’t sweat the small things and the big things won’t knock you out. The more you practice, the more it comes natural. The more you choose it, the more you feel it.
Check out my Word Wednesday on James 1:2 about joy! I encourage you to take on this challenge daily. You and only you have the power to make yourself happy. If you see me being negative please remind me to choose joy! (Thanks Pancake) Let choosing joy change your character & how you treat everyone around you! Don’t wait until tomorrow, the next step in your life, the weekend or vacation to be happy. Choose joy and be happy today! Set reminders around your house so it becomes part of your every day! Share your thoughts and comments, I would love to hear how you choose joy in challenging times! Go and be happy!