Joy Changed Everything
At some point in my walk with Christ, I picked up the lie that life in Him means a life where I often have to sacrifice joy and the things that bring me joy in order to fulfill His greater purpose. It was almost like I felt that happiness was selfish and if anything but Jesus brought joy into my life, it was fragile and could be taken away at any given moment. I would have to be deprived of external joy in order to fully rely on Him. Like Jesus took pleasure in taking things away from me to prove a point. “You can’t be happy with anything but ME.” Like some kind of jealous lover.
I remember the first time Zach and I had a conversation about joy. We were sitting in my brother’s house in the Netherlands, having just experienced an incredible few days celebrating our anniversary in Ireland. I sat on the bed next to him and told him that I wasn’t happy and I felt like I could never be happy again. Not with my circumstances. Not with where we were living. Not with what we were doing. I had tried for so long and I was tired of trying and tired of being tired. He said something that’s stuck with me all these years and completely changed my perspective. “You can be happy. And you can find joy. You just have to dig down really deep to get to it.”
AND OH DID I DIG.
Like a boss. If they gave awards for digging, I would be a blue ribbon winner. But they don’t and that’s dumb but I digress.
When I look back now and think about how hard those months felt, I kind of just shake my head because they were NOTHING compared to what came after. Job loss, homelessness, being rejected from our community, death. So much death. The difference was that the source of our joy had changed. The axis of our world changed from circumstances and external blessing and became solely and completely rooted in the joy that can only, inexplicably, come from the Lord.
True joy is rooted in Christ and it cannot be moved. Not by people. Not by circumstances. It is solid and it is unchangeable. It isn’t fragile or circumstantial. Its roots are deep and the fruit is abundant. When you understand that your joy is sourced in Christ, you will know freedom like you have never know before. Freedom from expectation. Freedom from the pressure to make decisions other people want you to make. Freedom to like things. Freedom to be like … really into things that have nothing to do with church or ministry or the bible or Jesus or helping people. You can have things in your life that serve no purpose except that you get joy from them and for the first time in your life, you’ll be ok with that. Because when you encounter true, Jesus filled joy, you learn that he likes that you like things. He likes YOU. You don’t have to justify your likes or try to find meaning in them or try to prove that they are an extension of your relationship with Christ or that they help you be a better person or whatever reasons we make up to purpose our lives. When your joy is rooted in Christ, your life fills up with LIFE. With growth. With freedom. Your steps are lighter and your burdens are carried by the Creator and deep rooted joy is never far from reach.
What if joy became your center?
What if your decisions were made from a place of joy, not fear, or shame, or pressure to please?
What if you lived your life fully surrendered to Christ and fully enjoying the life you’ve got?
What if you released yourself from the belief that in order to serve Christ we must be modern martyrs to the joys that life has to offer us?
What would that look like for you? What would change?
For us, it changed everything.