Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happiness & Joy

Happy Wednesday y'all!  We've been spending our time outside enjoying the gorgeous weather rather than on the computer around the Ward household lately, but I wanted to stop in and share a concept tonight.  As I've mentioned before, I'm currently working through Beth Moore's Bible Study, Breaking Free, with 7 other wonderful women.  I wanted to share this truth that resonated with me as I was working through my homework the other night.

I don't know about you all, but I constantly feel bombarded with false advertising on how to achieve "happiness".  There's self help books, diet plans, exercise regimens, beauty products and motivational speakers all promising to hold the key to happiness.  If we're feeling low we turn to a big cup of coffee, comfort food or an adult beverage for a temporary high.  Maybe it's retail therapy that does it for you.     

Then there's social networking, such as Facebook, that makes you feel the subconscious need to post all sorts of pictures and statuses to make sure people know that you are "happy".  I'm definitely guilty of this.  And at the same time those sames sites are also filled with such negativity, whether it's a busy job, a bad day or an everyday annoyance. 

I find myself in a constant need to prove that I am "happy" or commiserate with my unhappy Facebook friends who are really complaining about blessings that we should be joyful about...a full time job, another day God has blessed us with or minor annoyances that pale in comparison to the devastation others are experiencing.

Then I came across this life changing concept in my Bible study.  The difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness is purely a fleeting emotion.  Beth Moore states, "Happiness is inappropriate when it's our goal, but it's not inappropriate when it's God's momentary gift".  And that's when I realized that I have it all wrong. 

She then goes on to say, "Biblical joy can come from the sheer awareness of the grace of God".  Life is tough.  Even perfectly normal days can be filled with frustrations that test our patience, but we can still be joyful in our actions.  What a great way to witness - being joyful in our daily activities, thankful for this life God has provided, shining His light for others to see. 

Happiness is impossible to sustain here on Earth, so why do I keep chasing it?  This truth hit me like a ton of bricks, and I realized that I had been making happiness my goal when it should be joy in the awareness of God's love and the fact that His mercies that are new every morning. 

One change I'm going to make as a start is to spend less time idolizing the lives of others.  Whether it's a blog, reality TV or Facebook, too much of it can make me start to feel envious, insecure and inadequate.  And I know this isn't healthy, so I'm going to make a conscious effort to spend less time following others and more time being intentional and thankful in my own life.  It's a small step, but at least one in the right direction.  I hope this concept proves to be healing to some of you as it was to me.  

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete".  John 15:9-11             

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