Joy doesn’t come easy for me. I tend to be a focused, serious, get it done gal and am envious of others whose smiles light up a room and whose presence brings delight.
When I do my year-end review and assess my various life arenas – physical, mental, spiritual, relationships, work, etc., the section titled fun, joy, or brightness of life often rates the lowest.
I remember walking ahead of my mother and her friend down the neighborhood sidewalk when I was about 4 or 5 and overhearing the friend talk about me. “I worry about your daughter -she is so sober, never joyful.”
What? Me? I didn’t feel that way, but that description scorched deep into my self image. I knew many moments of delight as a child but allowed that story to tell me otherwise. I realized the other day I have believing that narrative about myself even though I know it is not true.
I asked God to help me practice joy more in His way. I cast away the old way of perceiving myself. Frederick Buechner wrote “We have God’s joy in our blood.” And I would add in our DNA.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3: 17
My practice of joy takes these intentional steps: Seeing. Saying. Savoring
Seeing – paying attention to all the moments of joy in each day.
Saying – expressing gratitude for joys.
Savoring – pausing and beholding those moments.
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. Julian of Norwich
Each day I watch for joy, recognize its gift, and allow it to seep into my soul. Thank you, Lord for joy.
One place I find joy is in poetry. Mary Oliver’s poem Mindful invites us to celebrate all that is present and how God is revealed in the ordinary things if only we stop to look, listen, and learn.
Every day I see or hear something that more or less
kills me with delight,
that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over in joy, and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab, the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help but grow wise
with such teachings as these –
the untrimmable light of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made out of grass?
by Mary Oliver
Good friend, I wish you the blessings of joy throughout your ordinary moments. How do you practice joy?
Lisa notes says
I’ve often felt that I’m just too serious. Interestingly, a friend recently told me to hang on to “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” So your thoughts here are ones I need to sit with about appreciating having joy in my DNA!
Glad I am not the only one who feels that way. Hanging onto the joy with you!
Linda Stoll says
praising God for the joy that the fruit of His Spirit implants in our souls, never to leave.
Fruit of the Spirit -right on!
Nancy Ruegg says
Seeing, Saying, and Savoring–a wonderful way to live! Thank you for inspiring us in that direction. Also appreciate that poem by Mary Oliver and the quote from Julian of Norwich. One way I practice joy is with my daily gratitude journal. Although I only write down one or two things, the review of the day’s blessings to determine what gets recorded IS an exercise of joy! Reading old entries is also a delight.
Those three words stuck with me too. Don’t you just love Mary Oliver’s words! so beautiful. Glad the daily journal helps – gratitude makes all the differennce.
Martha J Orlando says
In the midst of this horrendous illness, God has revealed His unspeakable joy to me, Jean. I am so grateful, I have no words . . .
Pat Forsman says
So hope youre getting better…had that abt 3 or 4yr ago…long haul but youll get over it…peace of the Lord..
Nancy Ruegg says
SO glad to hear you’re on the mend, Martha. You’ve given me delight with your testimony here of unspeakable joy in spite of horrendous illness–HALLELUJAH and thank you! Our God is good–all the time!
Still praying for your full recovery, Martha. God is JOY!!
Pat Forsman says
Jean…your writings…thots..and all that you share give me much joy….God made all us serious ones for each other….
You are a gift to us all…thank you
ah you are so sweet and your kind words made me smile!! Thank you