You Cannot Be...

As you all know by now, one of my lifetime goals is to live perpetually in a place of enthusiastic joy.  The choice to live in close companionship with joy is not always an easy task for a woman like me who also has a warped bent toward depression.

Often I write about the things that bring joy into my life … but lately I have been thinking about those areas in life that keep me from joy.  I have been pondering decisions, disciplines and habits that often deny me from that which I need so desperately.

I need more joy.

And so … for this week … on this day … this is what I have learned …

You cannot be selfish and joyful at the same time.

Selfishness always smothers any joy that is living in my heart. When I am more concerned about me … and my agenda … and my preferences … and my opinions than I am of the needs of others … joy always gets up and walks regretfully out the door of my heart.

Joy and selfishness are mutually exclusive. 

If I long to embrace a massive joy with reckless abandon, then I must also die to self and live for others.  I must.

Selfishness stifles joy in a way that nothing else does. Selflessness is the miracle fertilizer that causes joy to grow abundantly and causes that same joy to flourish in every season of life!

Selfishness has to go if my heart is to maintain its fervent level of joy.

Be gone, selfishness … be gone!

You cannot be ungrateful and joyful at the same time.

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When I teach on the extraordinary topic of “joy”, oftentimes people stare at me with blank faces and with absolutely no understanding at all! As I look out into a sea of confused and vacant stares, I often boil it down to this one thought:

If you don’t understand joy … then just be thankful.  Thankfulness and joy are not so very far apart.

If you choose not to be thankful for your life, your friends, your family and your daily blessings … then you will never fully experience joy.

When I feel the sludge of depression begin to inch its way into my life, I often choose to sit down and begin to write down all of the things for which I am grateful.

When life overwhelms me and people frustrate me, I being to thank God for the sweet gift of a new day … for green grass and for the gentle breeze that is quietly intruding through my open windows … for vibrant health … and for the Bible.

As I quiet my soul and stir up gratitude, joy returns home and joins in the eager conversation.

Thanks for coming back, joy.  I missed you! I am thankful for you, joy!

You cannot be fearful and joyful at the same time.

Fear is that monster that lives under the bed of quietude and threatens to come out during some unknown day in the nebulous future.

Of course … whatever you fear never comes out … it is only a creation of your imaginative fear.

Fear exists when I refuse to trust the Father and when I refuse to humbly acknowledge His care for me.

Fear creeps out of its dark hiding place when I allow worry to have the last word in a heated conversation with my soul.

When fear puts its dreaded stamp on my thought processes, joy is forced out of my heart … yet not by its own choice.

Joy wants to stay but fear tells it to go.

How do I win against fear and worry? 

That’s an easy question … I win with trust.  I win when I choose to trust the Lord who is all-powerful and all-loving and Who is intimately concerned about my life.

Trust once again opens the door and puts out the welcome mat for joy!

You cannot be jealous and joyful at the same time.

When I want someone else’s life more than my own … joy regretfully leaves.

When I compare what I have with what others have been given or have earned … joy packs its bags and lingers longingly outside the door of my heart.

There is no room for joy in a heart that is filled with envy or unbridled infatuation for the gifts that someone else possesses.

Joy maintains its steady presence in my life when I am sweetly satisfied with what I have been given by the generous hand of God...

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Joy and contentment are cherished roommates living in a compatible relationship.

Hello contentment … hello joy!

You cannot be angry and joyful at the same time.

And finally … anger will obliterate any chance of joy ever taking up residence in the heart of you.

Angry words … volatile thoughts … enraged actions … furious attitudes … all send joy flying out the door of your life!

And then annoyance slams the door while rage throws away the key.

Anger not only denies you of any hope of maintaining a sense of joy in your life … anger actually despises joy.

The flames of white, hot anger incinerates joy and only leaves the charred remains of a formerly joy-filled life.

Anger blazes with a ferocity that cremates the very last buds of joy in a person’s life.

I have never known an angry person who was joyful and I have never known a joyful person who was angry.  Have you?

Thoroughly drench your anger with the peace that passes understanding … and it is with the saturation of peace that joy will be revived.

Peace will blow new life back into the smoldering remains of joy.

Today is your day!

Today is the day for joy to be restored in your life!

Shoo selfishness, ingratitude, fear, jealousy and anger out the door and prepare to be inundated with the joy that is peculiar only to Christ-followers!

Today is your day for joy!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!