What is joy?
[a feeling of great pleasure and happiness
Synonyms: delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture]
Today is Monday the 21st of August, 2017 and I have been free of social media for 8 days now. Last week, I went to Bible study after not going for several years. I always had to work or I didn't feel like going, or as a single mama, the window between getting to church and staying home grew smaller and smaller the moment I picked my little one up from daycare. And for the longest time, I didn't really think anything of it.
Not only was it my first Wednesday night at church in ages…
….but it was the first time I had been inside any sort of church in two months.
I almost forgot what a relief just being in church is for me. I felt lighter. I felt less exhausted. I felt more hopeful. Just by being in the building, I felt like there was light at the end of this tunnel I've been stuck in. I felt like there was an end in sight.
She began a series about how to find joy in uncommon places. And by she I mean Jada Edwards of One Community Baptist Church. She spoke about how the first step to finding joy at all is in "the gospel going forward".
Now, if you're like me...you said WHAT? In your head and gave your screen the side eye. I understand. Me too.
I said to myself…
… this is the first time in years I decide to come to Bible study and you tell me that in order to find joy I have to first invest my time into the gospel going forward? No ma’am...not today!
What does that even mean?
I realized that I needed fixing. I needed help. I needed a word from on high this very second or my heart was going to implode inside of my body. I needed a real solution.
What was i supposed to do with this?
She continued and told us the first step in finding joy...true joy...not just happiness.. .joy that we cannot explain and a joy that gives us hope when a situation seems impossible.
Joy that is there when we get what we want and when we don't.
A single joy.
A married joy.
A mommy joy.
A “me time” joy.
An I hate my job joy.
A how am I going to pay this bill joy.
A how am I going to raise these kids joy.
The joy that we all want.
THAT type of joy is found in ensuring that the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing that He lives in us and through us and continues to go forward even when we can't. It's found in uncommon situations and conversations with those that may not know the God we serve. It’s found in my everyday life. It’s found in me being the example and evidence of what God is doing and has done on my behalf.
Next, she asked, when was the last time you told somebody about God?
I paused because I couldn't remember.
I felt bad about keeping what He's done for me to myself. I was disappointed in myself in that I wasn't able to go out and scream it from the mountain tops because God HAS indeed been good to me. In fact, He has been great so why wasn't I telling people?
I said all of that to say that the joy I am seeking and maybe the joy you seek as well will not come easy. There will be hard times and pain. It will come with a fight. I realized that it is a fight to save myself, from myself.
I'm certainly not living the life that God wants me to. I'm not studying His word. I'm not going to church. I'm not going to Bible study. I can barely remember to pray. I curse “like a sailor.” I've done and said bad things to people. I'm not a good or perfect person.
And all of that is okay because it is in the past.
This lesson didn't give me the immediate solution I was hoping for BUT it did remind me that God still loves me. He still cares about me even when I don't care enough about myself to reach out to Him. He loves us all so much that He still wants us to have joy.
My prayer is to be courageous enough to go and get what has already been given to me. I also want to be bold enough to share what God is doing in my life and to be strong enough to move the gospel forward. I pray that the people that read what I am writing and the people that see me live and in color, are able see the kind of God I serve and are therefore prompted and convicted enough to try Him for themselves. I pray that my story reaches just one person and saves them from my experience. I pray for strength. I pray for a turn around. I pray for restoration. I pray for repair. I pray for increase. I pray for peace. I pray for joy.