Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Fruit of the Spirit-Joy

Quick question: Do you ever focus on the good things in life?

If you just asked me that question I would have been shocked and really had to think about it for a minute. After thinking about all the times I've complained about things, I would have had to be honest with you and say, "No, I don't."

Why is it that we overlook the good when it happens, but the minute something bad happens, that's all we can think about for a week?

The answer, we lack joy.

I know it may seem easy to say, "No I don't! I have so much joy in my life, and I know that I have joy in my life because I'm happy." But are we being honest? The definition of joy as a noun is a feeling of great pleasure or happiness, and joy as a verb means to rejoice. Are we rejoicing when we spill coffee on our favorite sweaters? Or when we get dumped? I know I never have!

After reading the beginning of this chapter, I asked myself, "If bad things happen, why should we be joyful anyway? Why do we need joy in our lives?" Like usual, God answered my questions in an awesome way. His son Jesus was sent to save us, that's why we should be joyful.

"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13)

After reading this, I was put to the test of finding joy within myself. I found myself constantly nagging about something that was happening. I had two research projects due, and it seemed not enough time to do them. So what did I do? I was constantly bickering with my siblings and parents because I seemed so stressed. That's when God pointed this out to me as I was reading the chapter. My siblings didn't want to be around me when I was constantly grouchy, and I needed to change that if I wanted to continue to have a relationship with them. 

"Happy doesn't just happen; Joy takes action." -Lynn Cowell in Magnetic

Let me ask you this, would you rather be around someone who always takes the positive out of a situation, or someone who sees the negative aspects of a situation? Someone who sees you crying over a boy and sits to talk with you, to reassure you that God has someone planned just for you? Or someone who sees you crying over a boy and starts going on and on about how they told you he was wrong for you, and that you never listen? That's right, I would want to be around the girl that built me up, not tore me down. In the simplest terms, someone who sees the cup as half full. 

Another term talked about in this chapter, was a joy maker. The girl we would rather be friends with above is an example of a joy maker. Someone who would rather make the world a happy place, then constant sorrow. Here's a question to ask yourself, are you a joy maker? If I had to answer that question, I would say, "Yeah, I try to be. I know that sometimes I make mistakes, but I try to bring joy to as many people as possible." Though I could consider myself a joy maker, I would definitely need some work in this department. 

"Finding joy means finding God."

One way that we can ensure we are joy makers is following God. In the book of Nehemiah, we see the affect joy drainers could have on you. Nehemiah was helping the Israelites rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonians destroyed much of it. Men came and mocked Nehemiah and the Israelites for what they were doing. But what did Nehemiah do? Kept doing the work God told him to do. This story is so inspirational to me, Nehemiah chose to keep his head high, and focus on God and His plan instead of what people were saying. 

The story of Nehemiah is truly inspirational because he continued to follow God's plan instead of letting the joy drainers get him down. 

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)

In this verse, David finds his joy where? He finds it in the Father's love. He found his joy in God. 

Another great problem many girls have nowadays is finding their identity in a man. A quote from the book says, "Boyfriend-based identity crumbles with a break up." This is so true! I've found that so many girls my age are constantly with someone, because they feel like that's what makes them a person. I watch a very popular short called The Bachelor, and this past Monday night's show was the "Women Tell All" special. As someone who watched the season, and had many questions, I looked forward to what these girls had to say.

One thing though, was an accusation against one of the girls in the final six. The accusation was that she was lying to Chris's, the bachelor's, face. Saying one thing, then turning around and saying something totally different with the rest of the girls. But I caught one thing that she said that really spoke to me. Many of the girls felt that she wasn't being true because she said she loved the single life, and that she couldn't see herself getting married anytime soon. When confronted with that, she said, "I've learned that you have to love yourself when you are single, then to rely on someone else to full you with that same feeling." That's exactly what I had just learned about after reading my chapter.  We can't allow our joy to be sucked out because we don't have a man in our lives. We have to stand against what everyone is saying and say, "I'm single and I'm happy." Then, when that someone comes along, there will be so much joy because you don't rely on that person for happiness.

"Don't hang your joy on waiting for 'the one.' Seek Him-not him!"

I know that I get caught up in it too! Being single in high school, and wanting to protect my heart, causes me to tread lightly in the dating world. There was even a point when I asked myself why I had so many standards. Why couldn't I just test it out a little? Because God doesn't call us to test it out. He says to follow Him, and the rest will fall into place because we are following His plan for our lives. So instead of worrying about when you'll meet your future husband, or why you don't have a boyfriend when all your friends do, draw closer to the creator of joy. My favorite saying is, "Run as fast as you can towards God, and if someone can keep up, introduce yourself."

Find joy in Him, not the world.

I encourage you to draw closer to the Lord this month, and every month after. Let Him create His joy within you. I pray that we all find ways to be the joy makers of this generation, than to become the joy drainers of this generation.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." ~C.S. Lewis