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3 Ways to Choose Joy

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Do you ever feel like it’s hard to remember the dazzling moments of life in the midst of the grisly stages? I sure do. In the joyful chapters of life, I’m that girl dancing in her car at red lights to “Shake It Off” with a goofy grin on her face. Yep, that’s definitely me. But on the flip-side, when the storm clouds begin brewing and rolling in, my eyes lose their sparkle, my smile droops in sadness, and dancing to T. Swift? Well, that just doesn’t even register with my brain.

It’s tough to fight for joy when the rain clouds of life white-wash your parade. And it’s especially difficult to see the good when the storm doesn’t necessarily have an end in sight. When life throws me lemons, yes, I’m making gallons of lemonade (check out my recent post here), but what do I do practically-speaking while I’m gathering the lemons?

  1. Choose courage. Ever notice what the words encouragement and discouragement have in common? Courage is smack-dab in the middle of both. See it now? Encouragement and discouragement. Both require a choice. In moments when joy seems like water slipping through my fingers, I must choose whether I will embrace courageously saying, “My God is greater. He hasn’t failed and He won’t start now,” and truly believe that; or I can choose to shrug off bravery and whimper resentful complaints to God. Both require a choice on my end—a choice between picking up my sword and being the warrior that I am, or laying down my drive to fight for who I know God made me to be. He didn’t design me to be a blubbering, afraid girl. He fashioned me to be a strong woman who boldly embraces the journey of becoming who He made me to be. To discover joy, I must choose courage.
  2. Remind yourself of the good. A few months ago I established an “enCOURAGEment” iPhone album where I save photos and screenshots of moments, people, text messages and sayings that have brought life to my heart. In the moments when I can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel, I go to this album and remind myself of who I am and what matters to me. It’s hard to continue to believe the lie that you’re not good enough when you’re reading the truth in black and white letters on a page.
  3. Pray and let it go. I’m pretty sure Elsa had it right when she belted out, “Let it go,” in our 2013 favorite Disney fairytale. The only way I can truly let it go is by giving it to God. I love the words of Philippians 4:6-9, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” When I give my worries, disappointments, failure, unmet expectations, grief, tears, and brokenness to Jesus, He exchanges all of it for hope. He settles me down, calms my anxiously beating heart, and reminds me that He is good, my story is headed somewhere, and I’m going to be ok.

The lemons of life are going to come. That’s just a given. How I choose to pick them up and make lemonade is entirely up to me. And honestly, I’d rather make lemonade with a smile on my face believing the best and trusting in God, rather than resent making it the entire time. I can’t control what happens to me, but I sure can control what happens in me. And that’s a game changer.

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