*If you haven't read Part 1, please take a few moments to peruse that entry before reading this one...
4. I have to CHOOSE Joy. Some time during my Journey to Joy, God gave me the scripture, "You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else" (Psalm 45:7 & Hebrews 1:9, NLT). I heard Him very clearly in my spirit tell me that He was going to pour out His oil of Joy on me--more than on anyone else. It was overwhelming and incredibly humbling. In some ways, that felt like a lot of pressure, but I found myself rejoicing in His promise because I was sick and tired of being sad and depressed as well as full of anxiety and rage all the time. I didn't like myself in such a state.
As I began studying everything I could get my hands on about JOY--specifically on CHOOSING JOY, I quickly learned that in order to know TRUE Joy, we must suffer extreme sorrow. Don't think that I'm trying to say that I'm "glad" I've gone through the horrors I've experienced. If I could have any of my babies here with me to touch, kiss, and snuggle, I would--in a fraction of a heartbeat! I'd very much love NOT to have the still painful scars on my belly. It would be wonderful not to have to have experienced anxiety to the degree that I had to take medication for it.
But I do know the truth of God's word that He will turn my sorrow--my mourning--to JOY (Esther 9:22; Isaiah 61:3; Lamentations 5:15; NLT). The only difference between God's promise in these passages and the one in Psalms and Hebrews is the promise of giving the anointing oil of joy to ME MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE.
I found myself accepting God's promise and telling Him that I also receive His promise of pouring out His anointing oil of joy on me more than anyone else. It has not made my journey to joy easier or lighter, let me tell you. I have to continually CHOOSE to choose JOY and to remind myself of God's promise. I still have days when it's difficult to choose, but those days are growing further and further apart, Praise the Lord.
5. I cannot allow anyone's words or actions steal my JOY. I call it "pop my balloons." I have spent a lot of time over the years listening to nay-sayers and Negative Nancys and to allow their words and actions to determine my level of joy--or lack thereof, as the case typically was.
I personally think that the biggest reason why I struggled in this area as much as I did was because I didn't like--or love--myself. I hated myself. I hated who I was. I hated who I wasn't. I hated what I had been through. I hated my husband. I hated life. I was angry with myself and with everyone around me. I was a nay-sayer, a Negative Nancy.
And I hated myself for it.
After reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, I began keeping
my own Gratitude list--just like Ann's. I started in a little red moleskin journal that I kept in my purse. I came to a place at work where I realized that my co-workers and I were spending an awful lot of time complaining, so I made the decision that for every complaint I made, I had to give them 5 positives. That first day, I had to do 20 positives! It got much easier after that, but once I got started, I found that I enjoyed writing about things that gave me JOY--that I was grateful for. So I continued the list--writing 5 things that I was grateful for--for the next several months. I posted them daily online--Facebook.
I gradually moved to naming just one thing that brings me JOY each and every day. I keep the list on Facebook as well as write each entry in a special journal my mom gave me for Christmas. The more I focus on what brings me JOY--what I'm grateful for, the less the nay-sayers and Negative Nancys affect me--pop my balloons!
Every once in a while, one will come along, armed and ready and pop a balloon or two before I realize he/she is even there, but the more I see what God is doing in my life--where He has brought me and what He has brought me out of, the more I am able to move my balloons out of harm's way!!