Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 - Joy as a Choice

As I look back and reflect on this year, I find a consistent thread winding it's way through each portion of the year...I say "portion" meaning each segment I chose to reflect upon at one time or another.  Reflection is definitely something I need to devote more of my time to...have you ever had a time of reflection where you came out thinking "I am dealing with life exactly how I should" or even more bluntly "I am really good at life."  I know I haven't had those feelings, which is much of why I think I should spend more time in reflection - through this practice, I think I will be able to present myself more fully as the man I feel I should be, and the man I want others to experience me as.

BUT...that is not even what I was about to talk about.  My theme for 2010 would be the theme of CHOOSING JOY.  I definitely stole this from my pastor at Summit Church, Isaac Hunter.  It is such a good thing to consistently remember, as I think somewhere along the way we were all taught to blame our feelings and our experiences and our circumstances on this or that, him or her, when in reality it is only us who are in control of how we experience (and approach) the world.  I am not discounting that other people can affect us, nor am I discounting that people go through trials of many kinds - what I am saying is our joy and the person we put forth to the world is solely determined by the choice we make to either count our blessings or count our troubles.

And really, WHO WANTS TO SPEND LIFE COUNTING THEIR TROUBLES???!!!  It may seem so illogical, but many days we do just that - I do it ALL the time!  I think it is something we cling to which gives us control over the way we feel, the way things are going, etc.  We think to ourselves that if we can just be bitter and blame someone for how they bother us or blame our boss for the ludicrous things he asks of us, or blame our friends for not being here or there...we can remove our responsibility in any given situation and give ourselves the license to be unhappy.

Here's an even crazier thought - we PREFER being unhappy for some crazy reason.  I think society tells us that we should never be satisfied, never feel like we've "made it", never feel like we are good enough...and somehow that has translated into unhappiness being trendy.  Walk into any workplace and you'll feel it.  If someone says they love their job, those around them often become bitter toward them...or think that person must be crazy (though they'd never say it to his or her face).  It's much more normal to find lunch tables around the country filled by people constantly talking about how much their jobs suck and how they want to be elsewhere.  Now I'm not saying I love my job, but I get to decide how I view my job in general and it's place in my life.  It may not be the most riveting thing in the world 24/7, but man am I blessed to have it, and that I'm paid well and don't worry about losing it, and I could go on and on.  Even professional athletes and entertainers (the jobs we "dream of") are always telling their peers, "this grind is just too much - I don't get paid enough for this" - so there you have it.

To step off the soapbox, my study in 2010 that I have completely NOT mastered, is the study of joy as a choice.  I get to wake up everyday, breathing and moving uninhibited, with a clear mind, many talents, well provided-for, and I literally could write 200 blogs on all the blessings I have...these things should make me feel like I have no right to choose anything BUT joy.  I should treat those around me with the grace flowing from this joy.  I should approach the challenges of each day through the lens of this joy.  I should be generous and unselfish because of this joy.  I should love others and not worry about what they have done for me - all because I have an ubelievable joy.  The joy is rooted most deeply in the fact that none of the experiences I am blessed with would mean anything without the saving grace of Jesus Christ - and when I remember the things He did for me on the cross, I am even MORE silly to think of my life experiences as anything other than a massive blessing.

Basically, all I'm saying is that when you think things are tough, or annoying, etc. etc. - remember that joy is a choice you make.  Do not give in to the temptation to be bitter, to complain, to point fingers.  You will feel better about yourself, you'll feel better about those around you (and even sorry for them when you see their bitterness).  And your witness to others about the joy you have found in Christ, if you have found it (and I pray you have), will be fullest.  None of your heroes walked around complaining or whining - I guarantee it.  They are those who inspired you to believe the day-to-day was no match for their unbreakable spirits, and no matter what life presented, they presented themselves with grace, hope, and JOY.  They were ordinary people. 

Choose joy in 2011.  And then reflect on that choice.  It could be the most life-changing decision you make - more life-changing than a new job, a new relationship, a new family, a new home - the significance of these events will hail in comparison to your outlook.  And if you are reading this blog in a warm room on a computer you own, that outlook should be nothing short of joy.

God bless.  I am a work in progress, but my prayer is that as I work my thoughts out on this computer screen, they will continue to take root in me, and maybe - just maybe - take root in you too.