Choose Joy (Updated)


I’m going to give you a little life update. This week I started a brand new job* after spending the summer unemployed. For those of you who have gone through a season like this, I understand your pain. It sucks. Getting laid off is never something you want to think about, and it took me completely by surprise. So from mid-March all the way to early August, I trudged along trying to find a job. I applied everywhere, filling out nearly forty applications by my rough estimation. I had multiple interviews, several callbacks, yet nothing ever panned out. I struggled with discouragement and many other things, and I started to try to sort through my options.

While all this was going on, my friends around me started speeding ahead in life. They were getting new and better jobs, buying new cars, getting engaged or married, moving into new houses, starting new relationships, the list goes on. I, on the other hand, stayed stuck in neutral, grinding my gears in frustration. It felt like a hand was holding me or life back, and there were moments where I was angry with God. I worked odd jobs where I could to give me money to live, doing everything from yard work, valet parking, and even working a fireworks stand. I continued to be frustrated with God. Then one day, I remembered something I’d learned from the summer I worked at a high adventure camp. My old boss had said to me, “No matter the circumstances, you can always choose joy. Tired, stressed, at the end of your rope, frustrated, whatever, you can choose joy. Don’t let your situation dictate your outlook.” I knew he was right, and so I started to try to choose joy.

A funny thing happened: God provided and gave me just what I needed to get by money-wise. All of the free time I suddenly had gave me opportunities to volunteer at my church, get involved with mentoring younger Christians, meet new friends and strengthen my relationships with my old ones. Halfway through the summer my perspective shifted. I started to feel joy for my friends. I celebrated when they celebrated and thanked God for the opportunities they were getting and new paths opening up in front of them. I discovered the beauty of having joy for others despite your circumstances. Eventually I started to feel joy about my circumstances. I knew I’d be OK. I’d just have to be patient.

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that no one likes to be around a bitter spirit, and it shames me to say there have been times where I was that person. It’s something that is entirely dependent on your attitude. Happiness is an emotion that is dependent on circumstances. Joy is an attitude you choose to live in. Joy comes because you’re mindful of God’s work in you and those around you. Joy comes from remembering what God has done for you, and that joy can start to affect other areas.  A true friend shares in the joy of others, and when we do everyone benefits. Bitterness as a way of life is like choosing crawling as a means of transportation when you can easily walk, all it does is make you feel dirty and lower than everyone else. Sharing in the the good times of others and not having any secret resentments allows you to more effectively show the love of Christ and pour into other parts of the Body, plus it makes parties much less awkward. We will all have our time in the sun, so take the time to celebrate with those close to you. When your time comes others will be quick to encourage and share the excitement with you. No matter what season of life you’re in, God is in control and is using it to make you more like him. You just have to trust him, be patient, and decide what kind of attitude to have. At the end of the day, one of the biggest factors that defines our character is how we choose to react to things.

In James 1:2, James says, Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. Every day is an opportunity for joy, how cool is that? 

Ask for the spirit to help you choose joy no matter the circumstances, and I promise it’s better than living in bitterness.

*Update: My new job did not work out after I realized it was not a good fit and it was putting me in a place where I felt it could damage my spiritual walk and fellowship with other believers. This is no knock to the organization that was pursuing me, but just a part of the schedule and demands of the job. Thankfully I have a new substitute teaching gig to help me get by until I find where God is leading me.

1 Comment

  1. Alejandra says:

    Hey I thought your post was great. I feel that as Christians, going through a drought (either financial, spiritual, etc) is particularly challenging. We need to be able to handle it with so much fortitude that at times it becomes difficult to distinguish whether we are truly joyful or just trying to stay strong. This is my experience at least.
    I particularly enjoyed reading how you chose to have a positive attitude rather than wallow in self-pity. Your words were a confirmation I needed to hear. Thanks and God Bless!

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