Fruit of the spirit: joy

16 February 2015

This year, instead of setting traditional goals, I am examining and practicing a fruit of the spirit each month. I explain more here!

fruit-of-the-spirit

When I think about joy, the first thing that comes to mind is gratitude. I think gratitude is the “secret” to a joyful life, because the only possible outflow from gratitude is joy. When I am grateful, I am joyful. When I am grateful, I see the abundance in everything around me. I see that I have more than enough!

For the last few weeks, I have been keeping an impromptu gratitude journal. To be honest, while I am trying to embrace the whimsy of writing down whatever I happen to be most grateful for at the moment, sometimes it feels a bit aimless. There are so many HUGE things I have to be grateful for that I feel like I need to write all those down first! As in…

1) My health
1a) Health of husband
1b) Health of family
1c) Health of friends
1d) Health of cats

…and on and on. As a side note, the whimsy has led to some random recordings – why am I thinking about Free Cone Day in the middle of February?? (April 14, FYI!)

gratitude-journal

So, has cultivating gratitude helped me to be more joyful? Yes, I think so! However, even though many of the things I have written down are not materialistic, almost all of them are circumstantial, and I think that’s not telling the full story. Life Church’s current sermon series is called “God Never Said That,” and I happened to listen to the most recent one as I was mulling over all of these thoughts. In it, Craig debunks the myth that “God wants you happy.” The sermon is definitely worth listening to, but for our purposes, here’s the gist:

— God delights in our happiness, like any good father.
— However, He doesn’t want us to pursue happiness, He wants us to pursue Him.
— The world’s definition of happiness is: better possessions + peaceful circumstances + thrilling experiences + the right relationship + perfect appearances.
— God does not want us to be happy when our happiness is based only on the things of this world.

My husband brings me great joy. My cats bring me joy. Maine brings me joy. My bed brings me joy. But I believe that they bring me joy because they are a hint, a reflection, a reminder of the joy that is God’s love for me. For me, the most profound part of Craig’s sermon was his reminder that we need to lower our expectations of earth, because earth is not meant to be fully satisfying. Things here can bring us great joy, but they’re still only an echo.

weight-of-glory

A few more things I’m doing to cultivate joy:
— Letting positive, joyful people influence me instead of cynical or pessimistic people
— Being truly grateful not only for the good things in my life, but expressing my gratitude to the one who gave them to me
— Being present and ENJOYING the things, and especially people, He has given me. The more I tune in to the wonder of my life and the world around me, the more joyful I become!

Friends, out of every personality trait, I would wager that joy is the most intoxicating. People are downright intrigued by those who exude joy, because it’s something we all want more of. Be one of those people! Let your joy pour out of you!! In the meantime, I would love to hear: how do you cultivate a joyful life?

P.S. Fruit of the spirit: love

8 Responses to “Fruit of the spirit: joy”

  1. Lindy

    LOVE this!!! Here’s to a life full of joy. I definitely agree with you that joy comes from God and His love is the most joyful thing of all… even if all the other great things we are grateful for and delight in were to slip away, He is enough!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Emily, I’m definitely going to check out that sermon. “God does not want us to be happy when our happiness is based only on the things of this world.” Such a great reminder, it makes me think of the song we used to sing in Children’s Choir “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

  3. Oh, Em, I love this post!! It speaks to my heart so much and to the life I strive (daily) to live. Our joy can truly be found only in Him, and it’s not fleeting happiness or based off of any material or earthly thing. And I definitely agree that joy and gratitude go hand in hand; without profound gratitude, you cannot have joy.

    Here are some posts I’ve shared about joy and gratitude (I mean, my whole blog is essentially based off of this!) and how I try to cultivate those in my life –
    https://stephseekingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/thoughts-on-joy/
    https://stephseekingjoy.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/cultivate-gratitude/
    https://stephseekingjoy.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/gratefulness/

  4. Emily! This spoke straight to my heart today. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. I’ve been trying to get in the habit of writing down things I’m grateful for when spending time with my Bible, but there were times when I left feeling a bit shallow or materialistic, if that makes sense. I think you hit the nail on the head with this: “But I believe that they bring me joy because they are a hint, a reflection, a reminder of the joy that is God’s love for me.” Amen, amen, amen!

  5. Here are some of my thoughts on Gratitude/Joy that I posted recently: http://www.icingonthecakeblog.com/gratitude/

    Love the idea of working through the fruits of the spirit each month!

    -Caitlin :)

  6. Yes yes yes. Such a good post. Since my word of the year is Joy (http://instagram.com/p/xYRyGXQgBM/?modal=true), this was a wonderful reminder for me!

    “Friends, out of every personality trait, I would wager that joy is the most intoxicating. People are downright intrigued by those who exude joy, because it’s something we all want more of. Be one of those people!” :: SO good.

  7. Em

    @Nancy Was definitely thinking a lot about your instagram as I wrote this post, friend! Thankful for the wonderful influence you are on my life!

  8. I’ve noticed that I can often be lapse into ungratefulness without even realizing it. I’m going to add the gratitude idea to my journal as well!

    And amen to your pastor’s sermon! In this world, things come and go. But the joy and salvation found in Christ is enough!