We make literally hundreds to thousands of choices daily, many of which impact our future. We may not even be aware of their effect in the moment.
But choices are powerful.
One of mine, in particular, has had a lasting impact not only in my life but many others.
I chose joy.
A cloak of grief and sadness covered my life. I lost both Mom and Grandma within weeks of each other and it sent me reeling. After a year or so of navigating the heartache, I longed to be free of sadness. My life was ahead of me with a young family who I needed and needed me.
So, I chose joy.
At the time, I didn’t recognize it as joy as much as choosing to let go of negative. I was tired of grief and regret and craved happier. I chose to purposefully seek positive.
When younger, my glass skewed half-empty with negative go-to reactions and worry as the norm. But in my twenties, I had shifted to being more positive. It was a willful choice, but soon I was seeing the world as half full.
Then in a blink, the two most influential women in my life were gone.
It was a deep, bruising blow and revived my negative nature.
In the midst of their brief illnesses, my nurse mentality kicked into hyperdrive. I was busy navigating, treating, educating and helping them both.
Only at the end of Mom’s brief battle did I allow myself to truly be present simply as her daughter.
How I regret not doing this sooner.
Precious time spent managing could have been spent being meaningfully present.
This regret only compounded my grief.
But God and time helped me to again seek positive.
I knew then and even more fully now, how God was always present; speaking, acting, and moving me to seek and accept His joy.
Now, I truly believe our joy comes from God and He offers it to us as a sacred gift.
Accepting His gift and choosing joy amid my heartache seemed like a small step, but its impact has been profound.
In the ten plus years since, countless other choices brought joy not only to my life but also to others. Medically serving others across the world, rediscovering my love for writing, and finding a new career path are just some of the opportunities that arose because I chose joy.
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The apostle Paul puts it this way:
“Always be joyful.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT)
We all have issues, turmoil, or strife in our lives.
How we respond to these twists in our life roads matter.
We can choose to wallow in the negative or embrace the positive. We can choose to see life as empty regrets or see the fullness of His joy in every moment.
Psalm 30:11 (NLT) summarizes my experience:
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy”
In my darkest moments, I always knew His presence and strength. This strength helped me choose joy and I pray it will help you too.
I’ve learned some things about choosing God’s joy, no matter our circumstance:
- The joy of the Lord is our strength. There’s a great song on a loop in my head and its volume raises when choosing joy seems difficult. I grab onto His strength, belt out the song and choose joy!
- The joy of the Lord is eternal. Things, issues, and problems of this world are temporal. God’s joy is lasting. Grab hold now and forever.
- The joy of the Lord is available to all believers. Jesus’ death and resurrection secured it. It’s our choice to accept this gift and live in it daily.
- The joy of the Lord is strengthened by prayer. I can be as simple as one word uttered in a dark moment, but prayers to our God are never wasted. They only serve to strengthen our resolve to choose Him and His joy in every moment.
Our life choices have lasting consequences. Choosing God’s joy in any circumstance can have eternal impact, not only for ourselves but many around us.
Don’t wait. Accept the gift. Make the choice and choose joy.
About the Author:
Jill Hoven is a nurse who loves to write faith-based encouragement on wellness in soul, mind, and body. She is the founder of MemoryMinders providing memory wellness services to motivated adults. When not cheering her teens at sporting events, she can be found golfing, cooking or by the water. Her writing has been published by Proverbs 31 Ministries and can be found on her blog Follow His Footprints Connect with her on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.