a life of joy
Have you ever seen the movie Inside Out? Inside Out is one of my favorite movies of all time along with Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. Yes, you read that right. Disney movies are the best at any age! If you haven’t seen Inside Out, put it on your watch list. The reason I love Inside Out so much is because I identify with the character, Joy, the most. I love her unwavering, cheery outlook. I know she’s a cartoon character, but I connect with and share her eternal optimism. Here is a picture of Joy in case you haven’t seen the movie!
Isn’t she cute?
People have asked me, “How are you always so happy?” I always get a laugh out of that question because I really don’t have a specific answer. My parents raised me to be optimistic and search for hope in all circumstances. They’ve always preached a “you can do it” message. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments, days and even weeks when I feel off just like anyone else. However, for the most part I truly do feel grateful for each day. I feel joy.
When I first met my husband, Kyle, he was new to his faith; learning more and more about what it looks like to walk with the Lord daily. One of the first lessons he learned and shared with me was this:
J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – Yourself
I’ve never been great at math (especially when letters are involved). I failed my first calculus class as a college freshman. When I say I failed, I failed like a boss. Let me help put this into perspective. I took a quiz one day and GOT A ZERO ON IT. I was present in the class and took the quiz and I got a zero percent. The teacher didn’t even give me sympathy points for writing my name. Go ahead, you can bless my heart.
Addition and subtraction are probably as good as my math skills are going to get. By the grace of God, the letters and words in Kyle’s acronym add up to me. I love the breakdown of each letter and representation because true, lasting joy starts with Jesus. If we simply love Him with our hearts and lives, we gain everything. Loving God doesn’t mean loving every situation you are in. Let’s face it – life is really, really tough sometimes, but He isn’t telling us we have to love the hard times. He is telling us to love Him through the hard times. Faith in Him brings peace. Faith in Him brings joy.
What I’ve had to learn over time is that I can’t be joyful on my own will. I can’t try harder to find joy in my heart. Without Jesus, I can be happy but I can’t be joyful. Why?
Happiness is an emotion. As you may have experienced, emotions can go up and down like a roller coaster ride (ladies, can I get an “amen”?) I feel happiness when my Clemson Tigers win a football game but it only lasts until the next game. And heaven forbid they lose! Adios happiness!
Or, I’m happy when I buy a new outfit. Y’all – finding jeans that fit can create a lot of happiness! But guess what? The jeans will fade and eventually I will most likely need a new pair. They make me happy for an amount of time but not forever. Joy is different. I can’t buy joy. Joy is based on accepting and knowing Jesus. Joy means placing our hope and happiness in Him because He is good all of the time. His joy lasts when mine will fade away. We can rely on Him to make our joy complete. How cool is that?
Placing others before yourself is also a tremendous source of joy. God is all about giving, serving and loving everybody. He doesn’t tell us to give our time, love and serve others without showing us how. There are countless accounts in the Bible of how Jesus showed immense compassion toward people in ways we can read about and apply in our own lives. I’m not saying we can cure leprosy, but I’m pretty sure we can help people in need if we look around to see them.
He is the perfect example of how to serve and when we follow His lead we find joy. Try it out! There’s something special about serving and loving others for a greater purpose. Not only do the people you are serving benefit, but you do as well. You find and feel joy because you’re being like Jesus.
YOU are also an important part of feeling joy! Take care of yourself, love yourself and know you are a beautiful creation. YOU are God’s best idea! Quit looking around at other people and thinking you are less than what you truly are. YOU’RE AWESOME! We are all flawed, yes, but that’s perfectly okay. God planned for that!
I have a feeling He looks at us each and every day with a big, proud smile; like any good, loving father would look at his children. We are immensely loved by the King of Kings exactly the way we are. I pray we can see ourselves as God sees us. You have the opportunity every single day to practice finding and feeling true, authentic joy. Go for it!
So, remember: Jesus, Others, Yourself = JOY.
I pray and hope this helps you feel your own version of joy today!
In the next 3 posts, I am going to write about what each letter of JOY means to me and share reflection questions to help you feel and find joy as well.
Have a wonderful week!