Joy. It’s a tiny word, but it has huge potential! It’s a word that encompasses fullness, gratitude, peace, and love. It’s a word that describes the atmosphere of Heaven. It’s a word we don’t say enough, a word that should be shouted from the rooftops.

Have you ever known someone who exuded joy? The kind of person who is always happy, always smiling, and always has something uplifting to add to any conversation? These types of people are few and far between, but I’ve been blessed enough to know several over the years. I think especially of a girl I was close to in high school. She was constantly smiling and encouraging and sweet. No matter what was going on in her own life, whenever I spent time with her, I came away better for having been together. 

I remember when she came to visit me at college. It was a tough and busy week, and I as over my head in hurry and worry. When my friend walked through the door, I felt as though a cloud had been lifted. As we wandered around campus, chatting about our lives and laughing together, I could feel my spirit change. I became more peaceful and content. I started to believe that life wasn’t so bad after all, and that I could do it. By the time my friend left, I felt like a new person!

When my friend walked through the door, I felt as though a cloud had been lifted.

In a world full of stress, hurry, frustration, and bad news, this kind of friend is like a breath of fresh air — a taste of heaven to come! Recently, I’ve been overwhelmed with the desire to carry this kind of joy with me. I want to be a ray of sunshine that brightens each room I walk into. I want to be the kind of person that always lifts the mood and encourages my associates. And it’s really not because I want to be liked or appreciated. I’ve just realized that people who choose joy in their lives have more full, more meaningful, and less stressful lives.

I stress very easily. I am a perfectionist, clean freak, planner, organizer, and initiator. I want to see everything work out perfectly and just on time. And I tend to think I’m pretty good at making that happen. As a result, I spend a lot of time worrying about things and trying to do everything myself. Instead of resting in God’s power and plan and accepting His joy, I often choose to hang on to my own strength and ideas, which leads to frustration.

True joy can only come from the Lord.

The thing is, joy can’t come from myself. It won’t stem from my circumstances or my own effort. True joy can only come from the Lord. And this is the lesson that I am learning every day. In order to live a joyful life, a life of fullness and goodness, I must allow Christ to enter my heart and take over. I must allow Him to remove my selfish desires, my stubborn ideas, and my weak effort. In its place, He will give me selfless love, unconditional faith, and His own power. When I allow Him to do this, I will be filled with a joy that cannot be described. Life-giving energy and enthusiasm with flow through me and spill out on those around me, spreading joy to all around!

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