If there's one thing our present age pushes, one agenda everyone seems to get behind it's this, "Do what makes you happy." Here's my opinion on the matter. Forgive me in advance for being blunt. It's a bunch of crap. Please, don't fall for this lie!
I get so angry when I see or hear this, not because I want everyone to be as grumpy as the Grinch, no! On the contrary, I want people to choose Joy.
What's the difference?
The Happy motto says if you aren't happy with your life, your marriage, your job, etc, then get out if it! Get a divorce, change jobs, travel the world.
Joy's motto is to find the jewels amongst the junk and keep persevering as you climb the mountain. Hold on to tenacity and keep adventuring.
Joy is for the strong
There are many things in my life I could get angry about, and honestly, I have. I've pounded my keyboard in frustration, filled the silence of my house with the most dramatic bawling sessions ever and even told my closest family and friends, "I give up!"
I get close too.
I tell myself I'm done with a certain situation, that those people are going to know how I REALLY feel or the job becomes too big and stressful and I start day dreaming of packing my bags.
But I don't. Surprisingly enough, Joy stops me.
That saucy little minx!
Just when I've worked myself up, Joy tells me to find the silver lining in my situation and hold on until the clouds roll away.
Once a few years ago, I was hanging laundry in my back yard, something I LOVE to do (can you hear the sarcasm?) and as I grabbed the next peg the sky went dark.
I grumbled quietly to myself and bickered to God about how inconvenient it would be if it rained. In my stubbornness I kept pegging my clothes and willed the sky to brighten. At some point during my rant I heard that still small voice tell me to "Look up". I did and what I saw was very disorienting.
When the sky had grown dark, I'd imagined the whole sky full of clouds, but I'd never actually looked up, I just ranted to God and kept pegging my clothes. When I finally did look up all that had happened was one small, dark cloud had stepped right in front of the sun, blocking it's brightness from the world around me.
I was speechless.
I'd taken a mole hill and turned it into a mountain.
This little story is a constant reminder to me that regardless of my situations, or how dark I think my world is getting, I have no idea how big or small the cloud really is and I don't want to turn something small into a big monster.
Happiness is for the weak
Yes, life's tough. Situations suck, there are times we must mourn and cry. Times where we're facing an expansive sky of dark, boiling clouds, but I guarantee you, there is still Joy to be found.
Regardless of how big the storm. There's still a silver lining, because God is still good.
I recently came across this verse, ". . . and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy." (Psalm chapter 19, verse 5, emphasismine)
Choosing the road of Happiness is for the weak. It takes a strong man to run a race and still be joyful at the end.
I've volunteered at enough Ironman Marathons to know how much strength it takes for the winner to still raise their arms and smile in victory.
I've seen competitors less than a mile away from the finish line have to stop because their muscles physically won't cooperate anymore.
Choosing Joy is not for the faint of heart, but it's what God calls us to do.
Weeping may last for the night, but His Joy comes in the morning and most importantly we must realise and know it's HisJoy that gives us the strength to carry on and keep moving forward.
Whatever difficulties you may be facing right now, I hope you cling to Jesus and choose Joy, because I know he'll lift you on to his shoulders, point to the roiling clouds with a twinkle in his eye and show you those hidden silver linings.
Knowing this has changed my perspective of the storm. I get excited when I see it coming, because I know my Daddy is going to pull me closer, take me deeper and I'll be a richer person because of this present struggle.
Even spiritual and mental muscles have to be strained in order to grow.
Charis Joy Jackson is working as a full-time missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organisation in Brisbane. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time is writing a novel. http://www.charisjoyjackson.com
Charis Jackson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/charis-jackson.html