Choosing Joy

By the time March rolls around, I know that whatever resolutions I made at the New Year will have gone the way of any lingering snow by now—that is, trampled down and shoved off to the side somewhere. So last year I scrapped the resolutions and declared a theme for the year instead, almost a mantra I could repeat to myself: "Choose Joy."

I was tired of waiting for a certain set of circumstances that would supposedly fulfill me, tired of sitting around hoping I'd suddenly hit a permanent 10 on the happy scale. So for one calendar year, I committed myself to actively pursuing joy. I can't claim that in those 365 days I somehow mastered joy or discovered a three-step formula for finding it. But along the way there were a few themes that lodged in my heart, and I hope I'll never look at happiness the same way again.

Sometimes joy comes in little packages.

As I reflected on my joy levels (usually during my morning commute), it struck me how easily little things could steal my joy—like waking up late, spilling coffee on my way out the door, getting cut off by the large vehicle that apparently doesn't believe in turn signals. So I wondered: If little things can have so much power to steal joy, why can't they give it as well?

So I started keeping a list of all the things God has given me—not just the big gifts like salvation and provision and people to love—but the less overt graces too, like daffodil bulbs that peek their heads out each spring, a home with running water, the funny things that come out of the mouths of my Sunday school kids. Before I knew it, I was becoming less desperate for the elusive big-ticket joy items.

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May 25

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