In Others’ Words: Choose Joy

Choose joy everyday. Nouwen. 2014

I am often surprised at how quickly I I can “un-choose” joy.

I’m having a successful day — one where my heart is settled on joy. Again and again and again, come what may.

And then something happens. Or someone happens. Life disappoints me in a variety of small ways or one very big way.

And I stop choosing. I let go of joy. I look away from joy — and am overwhelmed by circumstances. All of the realities … and even some of the maybes.

No more choosing joy.

My friend Rachel has set her heart on joy. She’s chosen joy over and over again so that it has become the true north of her heart.

She has an eyes-wide-open joy — the kind of joy that stays when contentment comes easy and the kind of joy that stays when circumstances gang up on you.

There’s more to today’s Henri Nouwen quote and it’s worth sharing:

“[Joy] 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.”

And there you have: the way back to joy when we lose sight of it.

Can’t find joy? Remember that you belong to God. (1 John 4:4 NLT)

Can’t find joy? Remember that God is your refuge. (Deut. 33:27 NIV)

Can’t find joy? Remember that God provides you safety. (Psalm 121:7 NIV)

Can’t find joy? Remember that nothing, nothing, nothing can take God away from you. (Romans 8:38-30 NAS)

In Your Words: What do you do when you can’t find joy? What helps you choose joy? Who in your life exemplifies joy? 

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  1. October 20, 2014, 6:32 am   /  Reply

    Joy, like love, is only relevant in the giving.

    Otherwise it’s a pass thrown where no receiver waits, a pitch thrown to a deserted home plate.

    In its most basic and most compelling form, it’s courtesy and kindness, compassion and encouragement, and it can be mobilized even when God seems far, far away.

    • October 20, 2014, 6:43 pm   /  Reply

      I agree, Andrew.
      Joy is a transaction, if you will.
      Sometimes between a person and another person.
      Sometimes between God and another person.
      And, as I am finding today … sometimes it is between me, myself, and I. 🙂

  2. October 20, 2014, 7:34 am   /  Reply

    Even a short time in nature brings me joy, even if it’s only time for glimpses out of our big window over the creek into the park beyond to see the antics of woodland creatures and all the variety there.

    • October 20, 2014, 6:45 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed, Dee.
      The morning walks that I enjoy with a friend can bring much joy — especially as we look for what we call “a little bit of pretty.”

  3. October 20, 2014, 9:00 am   /  Reply

    I hadn’t thought about “un-choosing” joy. Have I done it? Oh yeah. But, I’ve been working on choosing joy regularly. I get set off pretty quickly by a boy’s “mad” and the words that spew forth in that state of being. I’m learning to let those roll off my shoulders and to stay calm.

    I’m also seeing that practicing gratitude helps me be more open to choosing joy. I’ve got a journal I’m filling with the “gifts” God has given me—big and small—that reminds me He loves me. Like Dee, spending time outside also gives me joy.

    • October 20, 2014, 6:46 pm   /  Reply

      Yes (a lof of agreeing going on here!), gratitude increases joy!

  4. October 20, 2014, 9:11 am   /  Reply

    I love this little post. Joy is my word for 2014. When our eyes are fixed on God, joy abounds.
    There is joy in knowing we are held in His hand and that He dwells in us.
    There is joy in knowing every trial perfects us in holiness.
    There is joy in seeing Him in the midst of our suffering.
    There is more abundant joy in the good days because we’ve been through the storm.

    Thanks for sharing.

    PS-I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to scriptures and quotes about Joy.

    • October 20, 2014, 6:46 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you for sharing the link to your Pinterest board, Jessica. I look forward to visiting it!

  5. October 20, 2014, 11:09 am   /  Reply

    Beth, joy is such a sweet thing. Sometimes it’s hard to hold onto, like you said, because of circumstances. But I’m trying to learn how. One thing that helps me is to listen to uplifting music. It helps my heart and head to get back in a good mood and focus on God once again. And of course we know, He is our Source of joy.


    • October 20, 2014, 6:48 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, Andrea — joy is found in music! (Another reason to use my Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I am so thankful for them.) 🙂

      • October 21, 2014, 10:04 am   /  Reply

        Headphones come in handy for me, too. Especially when my mom or sis are tutoring, and my tutoring schedule is clear. I can put on the ‘phones and tune into whatever story I’m writing, using the playlist I created for my characters. Fun times.

  6. Terri Tiffany
    October 21, 2014, 7:38 am   /  Reply

    I always enjoy your realness and hope you offer in your blog posts. I come away today filled with joy and reminded of where it comes from. Congrats on your new book!

  7. October 22, 2014, 9:47 am   /  Reply

    I’m sharing this one with our HER group, our women’s ministry at our church. Our Word for 2014 is JOY. This is such a good post about choosing it daily.

    • October 22, 2014, 7:39 pm   /  Reply

      So glad you were encouraged by this, Kim. Share away!

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