We all hear how Christians are supposed to appear different, be different. The outside world is supposed to see Jesus in us. They’re supposed to see love, patience, joy. But life can get so overwhelming and things go wrong. How are we supposed to keep joy in the middle of all the stress?
Do you ever feel like it’s a fight to hold on to your joy? Maybe it’s just been one of those days where you’re irritated with everything and everyone. You say things you know you shouldn’t say and they even come out with that snarly tone. I think had Paul been a woman that thorn might’ve been PMS. Am I right?! I seem to have them all the friggin time, even during the other three weeks of the month! Or at least that’s what I tell myself when in the middle of one of those days. Women are great at self condemnation, aren’t we?
The following are some practical tools that this past pessimist has used to fight negativity and cultivate and keep joy.
Practical Tools to Fight for Joy
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Look Beyond the Circumstances
It is a fight! As Christians, we know that the enemy is constantly starting battles and fighting for our souls. Sometimes though this simply seems like textbook christianity and we don’t really live this out in our day to day lives. Recognizing and remembering the unseen battles will help you make sense of a lot more around you. You can see battles taking place in the universe that are beyond you.
Look beyond the circumstances. Joy is able to override circumstances. We have to make a habit opening our eyes to the fight though. You are saved! The one true god called you and you are covered by the blood of Christ. One day you will meet your glorious king and spend eternity praising Him. All else pales in comparison and this is a powerful tool to fight for joy!
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times but never implemented it, huh? Kinda sounds cheesy. Hear me out. Putting things that you’re grateful for down on paper, the physical act of writing them out, helps your mind hold on to them longer. You’re training yourself to hang on to all the positive things in life that spark joy.
Keep a little pocket notebook or use your iPhone Notes app. Everyday when you get in your car to leave work take a minute to jot down three things from the day that you are thankful for. Not just the generic faith, family, friends cop out. Be specific. A coworker brought extra breakfast to work and shared with you. Your mom called and gave you some encouraging words. You got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes.
Just three things everyday will add up and your list will continue to grow and help you focus on living a life of joy and appreciation.
Smile, even when it’s fake
This one sounds even cheesier, huh?! I don’t care. I’m fighting a battle for joy. I’m sure Joshua thought marching around the city seven times to defeat it sounded kind of cheesy too. The science behind this is actually really cool. I kinda nerd out on it. Studies show that the act of smiling sends messages to the brain to produce chemicals of happiness.
Here’s the kicker – it doesn’t even have to be a real smile! It can be the fakest, funniest smile you can imagine and those muscles and nerves kick on the switch for endorphins, or the happy hormone. The increase in hormones produces an increase in the feeling. God designed this as a tool for our fight!
Let’s be real. Women compare themselves to others all the time. But we can turn that around and use it as a tool to fight for joy. My dad taught me that there will always be somebody better off than you and there will always be somebody worse off than you. When you’re driving you can take notice of the people waiting for the bus, the houses with shutters falling off, etc. Do you have a car? Do you have a house with windows instead of plywood boards? Don’t let the enemy steal your joy by sparking comparison with people who have more than you. There is always someone that doesn’t have it as good as you either. Gratitude promotes contentment and joy.
Another tool is one people use in parenting when they’re trying to get a kid to focus or calm down. The kid has to list off one thing they taste, two things they smell, three things they physically feel, four things they hear and five things they see. Whenever we’re in a rut and our perspective is negative this tool can be used to fight for joy. Stop and use your senses to realize all the things around you that spark joy.
I can’t talk about noticing the people who don’t have it as good as you without also talking about helping others. God has designed us to serve one another out of love and the blessings that come back when helping others are absolutely amazing! Helping others not only blesses the person receiving the help but sparks so much joy and satisfaction in your own heart.
You don’t have to donate major money to charity to help someone. Simply start with the people around you. One of my favorite ways to help someone is food. 🙂 You have to feed your family, right? Double the recipe, invite a friend that’s been overloaded, and keep it low key. Or take a portion to a church member who is grieving a loss or struggling. Even the apostles in the Bible started with the people directly around them in Acts, speaking love into them, helping them by sharing what they had, and spreading joy.
Your Sharpest Tool
The biggest tool in the fight for joy is going to be conversation with the One who created you and holds the heavens. After all, it takes an unworldly power to hold on to joy in this broken world. God tells us the ask and it will be given. As believers we have the Holy Spirit in us (that’s so hard to explain in non-churchy terms, huh?). The word of God tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is joy.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:18-23
The Message says that these are gifts God brings into our lives when we live His way. Draw close to Him in prayer and pray for strength and joy. He will answer you. Focus on His power – His might – His perfection and you can’t help but swell with awe and smile with joy.
Of course it is not by our own actions that we earn our salvation. The sacrifice of Jesus took care of that completely. Now the Holy Spirit will continue to work within you and teach you how to live each day for Him. These tools will simply help you have tangible practices to fight the battle for joy. And don’t be surprised if others start noticing the difference in you.
All the love for ya!
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