With the beginning of each new year comes new goal setting for me. Over the years, however, these goal have changed. It seems that I have moved from the superficial goals to the more intrinsic ones. Oh, don't get me wrong, I will most likely still want to lose "just 5 more pounds" for the rest of my life. But this year, I really pondered what was important to me and decided to do what is now considered to be the "trendy" thing and choose one word that I wanted to be my ultimate goal this year. And that word is JOY.
I chose JOY because it is not happiness. Happiness comes from external situations. Happiness can not only fluctuate from day to day but from moment to moment. Things that happen or actions that people do or words they speak can affect one's happiness. JOY, however, is internal. It comes from deep within one's soul. It is unshakable in the face of circumstances. It is what I want this year; PURE JOY.
Depending on which version of the Bible one reads, the word JOY is mentioned 88 times in the Old Testament and 57 times in the New Testament. That's a lot! So, from this alone, we can see that having JOY in one's life is important to God also. But there are JOY thieves all around us. It seems that whenever we are attempting to be JOYFUL, they lurk just around the corner plotting their assault. Who are some of those thieves? Jealousy. Pride. Greed. Impatience. Anger. Just to name a few. But you get the picture, don't you?
How do you get rid of those JOY thieves? Simply put, it is in where you spend your time and who you spend it with. I find that the more time I spend with God, the less time I want to spend on things that steal my JOY. This generation (and some of mine, as well...) spend lots of time comparing themselves and their situations to others. It's commonly called, "Keeping up with the Joneses". I want a big new house, new car, designer clothes and shoes because EVERYONE else has it and it is an outward sign of success and happiness. Oops...there you go; that word again, "Happiness". And what was it describing? External "things". And "things" can and will only make you "happy" for a while. While true JOY comes bubbling up from inside you.
When I try to come up with a list of things that bring me JOY, here are just a few:
I am JOYFUL whenever I have my morning quiet time with God.
I am JOYFUL whenever I think of or am with my husband.
I am JOYFUL whenever I get to spend time with my children and grandchildren.
I am JOYFUL whenever I get to sit down and read a good book or start a new knitting project.
I am JOYFUL whenever I can visit with friends and laugh.
I am JOYFUL whenever I am walking outside.
Do you see where I'm going with this? There's no time or place in my life for those JOY thieves. Instead I concentrate on peace, love and gratitude. Those are the things that are helping me achieve my New Year's goal of JOY. Will there be times that I won't experience JOY? Possibly. Probably. Simply because I am only human. But I will try to remember JOY and try to find something in every situation that will bring me back to that JOY.
I CHOOSE JOY.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5