Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? I make a lot of choices every day- what to wear, what to eat, which route to take home from work. I make all of these choices based on some form of calculated data; I check the weather, the fridge, the traffic. But choosing to be joyful is a bit different. If I base my joy on any measured particular, most of the time I would get a negative sum: the weekend is almost here and I can sleep in! … but there are children who are starving to death in war torn countries. Joy seems silly, irresponsible even, if I’m choosing based on these benchmarks. With all of the sadness and struggle and suffering in the world, why should I choose joy?
In short, because I can. Because everyone can. I absolutely love Rick Warren’s definition of joy:
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”
Joy is so much gloriously more than the happiness we squeeze out of our circumstances when things are mostly going well. Gloriously more because I don’t have to worry so much about being ‘happy’ all the time- I am not ruled by my feelings, but by a deep and abiding understanding that I serve a loving God who will someday make all things new.
A lot of times, choosing joy looks like this for me:
Let me choose anger, let me choose despair, let me choose whatever is easiest in the moment because being joyful is sometimes really dang inconvenient to whatever feelings I’m feeling (also, taking pictures as a child was really hard, I would love to high five this mom!).
And that’s why joy is a choice- it’s an opportunity to move beyond what is shaky and ephemeral and to stand on what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is lovely, and what is admirable.