Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Manufactured Joy does not last.

Since my last blog, quite a few people have privately expressed their concern, Allie are you okay? Rest assured I am good, but this whole fighting joy thing has made me realize that I could be better. I could be living more fully, more joyfully more purposely. Let me explain.

I think a big part of this is that I have a tendency to want to create my own joy, my own happiness. I get joy through my hobbies, my relationships and my work. Nothing is wrong with that, in fact I am glad I can find happiness in so many things, it is a great gift. But here is the kicker, because I can so often find happy I fail to look for true joy.  I get so busy manufacturing my own happiness  that I fail to lean on God for his Joy.

So how do I know this? Well I think I have alluded to my inability to do nothing. I cannot sit still and "just be" without great effort. So when I have days that I would count as "less productive" I can guarantee that I will not be as joyful. In fact, on some of those days I get downright irritable, quite the opposite of joyful. It has been my experience with these days, where I am so caught off guard with my irritability that has forced me to look deeper into my beliefs about joy. As far as I can tell through my moments of introspection, I lack contentment on those days, I lack the security that would allow me to feel valuable even when not "contributing" to the lives of those around me or my own household. Crazy huh! Here however I think I am not alone, and while I would not OUT anyone on this, I think a lot of women are just like me, (and lots of guys too)  We can  all be comfortable when contributing in some way, or producing something of value in some manner but the minute our contributions stop or our productivity is halted, wham, we are hit with feelings or thoughts of inadequacy and mediocrity.

If all of this is true, and I know it is for me, then the only deduction I can find is that manufactured joy does not last. If it did, the less productive of my days would be able to feed off the leftovers from the day before. Sadly that is not as true as I would like and often live in a joy deficit day.

My friend Jen, (who is seriously one of the most amazing women I know) had Psalm 28:7 as a favorite verse for years, it begins like this, "the joy of the Lord is my strength.." I have always looked up to Jen as a spiritual mentor and this verse has rambled about in my brain for a few years now, and just now I think I am getting the implications.  The strength gained from knowing God's joy is immeasurable, it brings contentment even when chaos is knocking at your door, it brings security when the world around you changes, and it allows peace to speak loudly when everyone else seems to be at war. Knowing God's joy removes from me the absolute need felt by every human to make their own contentment for it shows me who I am and where I belong, even during my non productive days. Seeking God's joy is refreshing and not tiring for it is freely given and not earned by what I can do. Relying on God's joy is counter intuitive for someone wired like me, I want to be able to point and say look what I did, or to be able to take the accolades for a job well done. But what I have realized, that if I want joy, true joy, lasting joy, unspeakable joy, then I must look to God first. His joy allows me to humbly bow and point and give the accolades to the One, the only One who is able to sustain Joy.

I am loving this path that I am on to better understand Joy, I am not done yet. I so look forward to sharing more about this journey with you!

shine on my friends, in great joy.. shine on

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fighting Joy

It all started one summer afternoon at my cottage in Ontario. Admittedly I was having an off day so I took some time to spend alone with God and His word and filled my journal with thoughts. This question came to me; "Allie, why are you fighting My joy?". Sure I was having a bit of an off day that day, sure I was not as patient as I needed to be with my child, and not as kind as I could have been with my husband, but fighting joy? really who fights joy? The question was more of a statement but seriously I was shocked, who does not want joy in their life? Why would anyone fight joy. Don't most of us in this world pursue joy over most anything? Whether they are looking for joy in a bottle or joy in a sunset, is there not something deep within all of us that seeks joy?  But once I remembered the statement I needed to reevaluate my shock, God did not say Allie why are you fighting joy,  he said why are you fighting MY joy. Perhaps, thought I, I do fight His joy. Perhaps God is onto something and perhaps I need examine the truth of this statement in my life. So off to my journal and God's word I went to try to figure out what this all meant.

Now here is the humbling part, this statement was realized in July of 2011, it is now October 2011 and I am still in the  process of figuring this out. I quickly realized that this was not just a yes or no question, that the idea of fighting joy is a huge concept that will require  months if not years to figure out.  This was the very thing that created some of my previously mentioned writers block.

 My first instinct was that I was not "normal" a word I highly discourage but used nonetheless. That perhaps I was the only one in the history of the world that has ever fought God's joy. But as I carried around these thoughts and watch the rest of humanity around me, I realized I might not be alone in my nonsensical battle against the truest joy ever offered. So here I am letting you to in on my quest and asking you to join me if you so desire.

This topic requires vulnerability, more than I care to share on a blog, but I am willing. This topic requires humility, more than I possess,but faking that I know all the answers does not work. All of that should scare me away from writing this, but, this is a journey that  is imperative for me to follow in order to live the life I want to live, one of Joy. So here I am opening my heart in a public  forum and stating that I am willing to share some of my findings with you. I have no idea where it will end but I trust it will bring me closer to the God I love and live for.

 I would love feedback or comments at any time as this is a process. Feel free to email me at alliemacphail@live.com if you do not care to leave a comment below.