I am thrilled to welcome my dear friend, Rosann, to this space today. I’ve known Rosann for nearly five years through blogging. I came across her blog, formerly Unemployed Faith, at a time when I was walking with my husband through a very long season of unemployment. She was such an encouragement to my heart in that season. We have remained great blogging friends, and I’ve even had the privilege of meeting her in person. I just know you will love Rosann’s heart as she shares about JOY today.
I’m not sure how it happened, only that it did. Life, responsibility, hardship, health problems and loss had all grown fear and discouragement in my heart. This overwhelming feeling of utter despair sucked every ounce of joy I had ever known away from me.
2014 was the year I realized I was smiling less frequently even though I still had so much to smile about. It was the year my health took a turn down a hard path. It was the year I had finally grown sick and tired of being a people-pleaser and decided to put myself first. It was a hard year of change and personal growth. At one point I pondered whether or not I was having a mid-life crisis. I knew I wasn’t the same happy-go-lucky gal I had always been.
Towards the end of that year God placed the word JOY on my heart. It was like this enormous revelation that came from His still, quiet voice. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized my joy was missing.
Slowly, whispers from the Holy Spirit spoke to me, reminding me of one very important truth. Even though my family and I had experienced so much heartache and so many trials during the prior 15 years, one thing had remained steady through it all – GOD! Not once had He ever left us. Not once had He ever failed us. Not once had He provided anything less than what was best for us in the moment and in the big picture of life.
How could I not experience JOY knowing that truth?
I had a choice to make. I could either continue to listen to the darkness and become more and more suffocated by it, or I could strap on the belt of truth (Eph 6:14) and let God’s Word and His promises set me free (John 8:32) to fully experience His goodness and His joy.
And so began a journey to rekindle my JOY.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~ Romans 15:13
I’m almost 9 months into this journey and God continues to teach me something new each day.
The greatest lessons I’ve learned about rekindling joy are these:
1. JOY comes instantly.
Once I prayed for God to help me fight the darkness drawing me in, I was ready to actively put on the face of joy – even on those bad days. The results came almost immediately! Joy had been planted inside of me the day I accepted Christ as my Savior. I had just spent too much time focused on the wrong things.
2. JOY needs to be sought each day.
[tweetthis]If I’m not looking for beauty in my life on a daily basis, it will go unnoticed. @RosannCunningham via @BarbieSwihart[/tweetthis]
Sometimes the hard stuff is too big and distracting. So I started a daily joy journal. Every evening before bed I write in detail about just one thing that day I have to be joyful about – no duplicate entries allowed. This has not always been an easy task. On more than a few occasions I’ve had to look really deep for joy under the mess.
3. JOY is awesomely contagious!
Before I knew it, I felt happy again and had a sense of almost indescribable peace. I stopped taking life so seriously and allowed myself to joke around and giggle with my loved ones. I’m so much more positive, too. And the really cool thing has been seeing these behaviors mirrored back to me from my husband and my kids. I’ve rubbed off on them – both negatively last year and now in a beautiful way this year!
If you have a relationship with Christ, joy is His gift to you, as well. It doesn’t matter what season of life He has you in right now. You, too, can rekindle the joy in your heart.
Choose to change your focus.
Look for joy in the every day things of life.
Let joy overflow from your heart to those around you.