deciding on joy

“We are inclined to think that when we are sad we cannot be glad, but in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand, but when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”

–Henri J.M. Nouwen, Here and Now

(this inspiring quote was copied directly from Emily at chatting at the sky)

I admit that I often choose sorrow and negativity over joy these days. The knowledge that I am God’s doesn’t often spring to mind first, though it does come eventually. So instead of choosing joy in the face of discouragement, I choose self-pity. I believe the worst. I eat my feelings, or at least, I justify what I want to eat by how I’m feeling. I see what’s lacking instead of what is abounding. I sometimes choose to feel alone instead of opening up. And it’s no way to live.

I need to go back to where I’ve been and rediscover the knowledge of being loved and accepted by God, and let that influence how I feel and what I do. I have let myself believe the lie that I’ve become a cast-off, an ill-fitting piece – much like the clothes in our garage that have sat in boxes for the past two years: in a dormant, in-between stage that currently has no end in sight. They are still “ours” but are unable to currently be used. How long will I lie in wait, rather than realizing I still belong to God, no matter how imperfect I am for the moment?

Make me joyful, oh God. I long for moments of joy, affection, generosity and playfulness. Let me choose that even when it’s most difficult. Let me not believe the lies: that I don’t belong, that my cards have all been played, that I’ve made the wrong decisions. Let me delight in the little things even in the midst of frustration and sadness.


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