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

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