Choose Joy

There was a book published by Herald House several years ago titled Choose Joy. The cover of the book had that title in bold letters, surrounded by clouds with other choices in them–happiness, despair, support, grief, anger…

My mother has it sitting in her bathroom where she (or anyone else who uses it) can pick the book up and read one of the short chapters.

Since we go out to play games with her on a weekly basis, I see the book quite frequently, and the title of it has really gotten me thinking the last few weeks…especially as I look at the other choices listed on the cover.

During the last few years, I have gone through some difficult times at my work. Not unusual, I know. But during that time I found myself making other choices–anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred. I was becoming a cynical, unhappy person who was not always someone that others enjoyed being around. My choices were justified, (at least in my eyes–and from the responses of others who were going through similar situations.

But at one point this spring I had an unexpected question pop into my mind: “Why do you want to hold on to your anger?” And I became aware it was my choice. I could continue to see myself as a victim, as someone who had been wronged–and turn into one of the toxic people I was associating with.

Or I could choose joy. That doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. It’s longer-lasting than happiness, and it’s not dependent on the actions and choices of others. Nor was it something I could do on my own. I had to be willing to let go of what seemed to others to be justified anger…to let go of hurts…so that God could step in and bring the healing that I so desperately desired. I had built a fence around myself, and I had to be the one to start tearing it down.

Once I began that process, I discovered that the power of God’s love is greater than any forces of hurt and pain…and I was willing to choose joy…

To walk with you–
     to let you be my guide–
takes me to places I would not choose.
     Winding paths
     Steep roads
          with stones in the way
     Dark roads
          that make me fearful.

I had thought
     the walk would be
          joyful
          easy
          on well-marked routes.

The sun shines–
     but dimly at times–
as I struggle
     to trust–
          even when it seems I am going the wrong way
     to hope–
          that light will break through the darkness
     to cling to the One who urges me on.

God–
     you have promised
          never to leave me completely alone
          to bring me to new heights
          new eyes to see your people with.

I trust–
     and I fear
          in equal amounts.

Be the light
     in my darkness,
the hope
     in my doubt,
the new life
     in my death.

2 thoughts on “Choose Joy

  1. Good post! I agree with what you are saying to an extent.

    Though, in choosing joy we don’t want to just be putting on a mask to those other feelings. For when that happens they will resurface. I think that working through those feelings and having a sense of joy because of going through the process is a much healthier approach.

  2. Very true. For me, happiness can be more of a mask than joy. Joy is based on the deep-down foundation of trust in God who loves me and walks with me through those difficult times.

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