Saturday, July 18, 2009

Choose Joy

Finally remembered where I was trying to head in my earlier post. Each of us has countless choices to make everyday-from the mundane: do I have toast or cereal for breakfast? Do I need a jacket today?, to the lasting: Do I take this job? Do I fight for this relationship or walk away? And yet there are those choices we often don't see as choices. Choosing to be happy, to see the good in life, in people, to speak well. Not long ago I read a quote to the effect that life is too short to be anything but happy. How true. Life is short-why would anyone choose sorrow, anger, fear? Some might argue that they didn't choose these things, that circumstance created their attitude, but then you have to ask-who is in charge of you? Of how you feel? Oh, yes, God, ultimately, but YOU choose how to respond to circumstance.
Life is frustrating. Friends hurt us. Lovers leave. Lines are long. Children are willful and challenging. And in those moments we weep, we rage, we shake our fists in frustration, wonder when it will finally be our turn. Then we take a breath. Now the choice: Do I allow circumstance to make me grouchy, bitter, maudlin, or do I use that breath to laugh at life, to choose joy, refuse to be knocked down?
Maybe it depends on the source of your joy. Does it come from external things or does it come from that secret place in your heart where heaven dwells? External joy is affected by long lines, flat tires, rude people. Internal joy sees these frustrations as bumps in the road, as opportunity to grow, to be shared.

I know it sounds great. I also know its hard to do. It is a choice, born out of the knowledge of who I am, who I belong to, who I want to be. If you're saying to yourself; "wait, you just don't know what kind of hand I've been dealt. X, Y & Z happened to me. I don't want to live like this.." Let me say this: It doesn't matter. Like the apostle Paul I could make a long list of tragedies in my life. I could make a longer list of the blessings in my life-and I do, when that nasty little voice in my head starts to whisper and point out every failing. It doesn't take long and that voice fades into the background. Some days I have to grit my teeth and declare positive things-choose joy. A paraphrase of Proverbs 23:7 might read "As you think in your heart, so you are." Try it for a day, for a week. Look for the good when hard things are in your path, even if all you've got in that moment is "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger". Its a start, it will get easier.

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