Choosing Joy

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Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Do you think that is true?

Unhappiness has crept into my life many times.  It felt natural.  If my daughter didn’t throw a tantrum at the grocery store, I would be happy.  If I hadn’t burnt the dinner, I would be happy.  If the kids pitched in a little more, I would be happy.  If I could read my favorite blogs without interruption, I would be happy!

The problem with this thinking is that it bases happiness on circumstances.  And we can’t always control our circumstances.

Philippians 4:4 says, “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” What?  Always?

Then we have the second aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: Joy (Galatians 5:22). How can this be?  How can God command me to be joyful?  Doesn’t he know what I go through?

If God can command us to rejoice always, then there must be a secret.

The truth is, joy is more of an attitude (or mind set) than a feeling.  It’s not just an emotion that comes from earthly circumstances which change from hour to hour (or minute to minute if you have kids at home).

For most people, happiness is connected to chance. If we want to be like most people, we won’t  have a home that is truly joy-filled.  But you don’t want to be like most people do you?  I didn’t think so.

I thought it was funny when my husband told me that the root word for happy (hap) actually means chance.  Taking that into account, my little illustration at the beginning was not far off.  Maybe if I didn’t burn the dinner, I would actually feel happy.  At least for the moment.  Until I remember that I left the water running all day!

So, happiness is nice, and we enjoy those lovely moments, but what we are really going for is joy.  As Christians, our joy is a deep inward joy that is based on things that are eternal; they do not change and they cannot be taken away from us by the world.

I can’t prove it, but I think Abraham Lincoln was really referring to joy.

That happy (er, joyful) home we desire needs a joyful Mom at its core.  And the peaceful, joyful Mom part…it’s all up to you.  I'm not saying it's easy, it's not.  But the outcome is worth the work.

So what do you say?  Will choose joy with me?

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