I confess to feeling some pride when I see this in my front yard. I invested a lot of hopes and a few prayers in seeing this grow. I planted it carefully and watered it often, anxious to see in reality the picture I could see in my brain when I got this plant.
This tree is a bit of an eyesore for me, so I am choosing to brighten the surrounding ground. Flowers and plants surround the trees and rocks outline the flowerbed.
Colors and flowerbeds make my heart happy, happy, happy. (Which is why I don’t understand why I wear black more than I don’t?)
Life is not always kind, it teaches lessons that I just wish I never needed to learn. Friends are for seasons and seasons change, words hurt, life isn’t fair and many others. I can type out all the typical clichés here: tears are a language God understands, He doesn’t give you more than you can bear (Um, yes He does! But that’s another post!), Where there is one set of footprints, that’s where He carried you. Anyone else not love these clichés? Life is painful enough without having these thrown at you during a tough time.
Somewhere along life’s way, it is easy to become cynical, selfish, and always expecting the worst. It becomes increasingly hard to choose joy.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b
“So also you have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
In John 16, I am reminded that the sorrow and pain I feel here on earth pales when compared to the emotional and physical pain Jesus felt. And still, His last words were nothing like “God, I saw this coming,” or “Isn’t this just how MY life would end.”
Knowing what Jesus suffered has been a soul searching experience for me. As I think over His pain, but yet His willingness to suffer it because He knew it would allow us passage to Heaven, I can’t help but think of one verse that sounds like a cliché: “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Ahh that last part often gets forgotten, but it is important to remember.
All the clichés I listed above are true as well, but I dislike when Bible verses are used as weapons or barbs, I prefer when you use them during a painful time you are extending love and care, as Jesus did. He reached out and shared His love, He did not look at the ones suffering and toss them a verse as comfort.
Choosing joy. There are some great biblical examples. I will share one name and story and one book.
Esther. She is used for many other biblical examples for women, but I think she needed to learn to choose joy in her life. She lost her parents, was forced to go audition to be a queen. Sure, living in a castle and undergoing beauty treatments doesn’t sound so bad, but I’m sure she missed her family. And let’s take a second to acknowledge with that amount of women under one roof, competing for one man I am sure the claws came out once in awhile. That is purely my opinion, however. Then she is chosen to be the queen and her King and husband’s one official decided he needed more respect and that Jews needed to die. Imagine her fear. She had to have known what the King had done to his first wife. She braved through the negative emotions and proceeded quite wisely. A story I really appreciate and I believe we women could learn a lot from her as a biblical example of a godly woman.
Philippians. When is the last time you read Philippians? One bad days, weeks, this is my go to book in the Bible. Paul wrote this while imprisoned. Now I have never been to prison, but I imagine that it’s probably one of the hardest places to learn to choose joy. Yet in Philippians he exhorts and encourages others.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 3 & 4
There it is. I strongly encourage each of us, yes me too, to look at our motives. Do we count others more significant than ourselves? Having a servant heart, a willingness to serve makes choosing joy in the hum drum and hard stuff that comes into our lives. Not every situation is that simple, I know that. Today I am writing this to myself. My laundry has piled up, the menu planning I promised to do has failed, and my motivation went out the window. Choose joy. Cleaning, cooking, laundry are the hum drum things I do not love. but I will persevere and bloom where I am. Even if that is the dark hole that is my laundry pile.
Go. Be bright. Be bold in choosing joy and tell me how it goes for you!