Today we’re on chapter thirteen in our book club for The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth. Today’s chapter is on the virtue of joy. More information on the book club is found underneath the post. (View table of contents here.)
Please note: Before I get into this topic today, I want to point out that this post is for those who struggle with unhappiness, the blues, and a sense of discontentment. I believe clinical depression is a real problem for many people. I would never attempt to minimize that. If you are seeing a doctor about your depression, please continue to do so without guilt or shame. Love and hugs… Darlene
If you asked me ten years ago how to get joy, what joy feels like, or how to experience long-lasting joy, I couldn’t have answered–at least not correctly. I was in search of the secret myself. In fact I picked up several books on the subject hoping that something would click. Thinking that someone out there could put a spring in my step. Sure I experienced the ups and downs of every day life, but the dark days got to me, more than they should.
With highlighter in hand I’d dig into a book, hoping that this one would do it for me. Sometimes they did for a few chapters or so, but soon enough I’d be right back to that same place, wondering why I wasn’t feeling the joy I was seeing around me.
Happiness is Fleeting
It had to be my weight. Skinny girls were happy and chubby girls weren’t–or so I thought. So I got on the band wagon, lost 40 pounds and kept it off for over a decade. I was finally happy until the novelty of wearing tiny pants wore off. In the same way, many people are happy when they win a lottery, go on a vacation, get published, receive a promotion, buy a new car, and the list goes on…
The problem with searching for joy from experience is that experiences are always fleeting. They come and they go. When we attach our emotions to them, we are riding a roller coaster that’s at the top of the world one day and at the bottom the next.
Live in the Moment
The way to experience long-lasting joy is to live in the moment, and stop looking for the next high that brings a smile to our face. There’s beauty in the mundane. If we’d only stop for a minute to really experience and appreciate the wonder of this world that surrounds us, we’d be captivated by God’s grace.
The way to live in the moment is to be mindful. I know that’s a buzz word that everyone throws around, and no one really ever seems to tell us how.
Two of the best ways that I know of are prayer and journalling.
Prayer is the best way to start your day because 1) you invite God into your life, and 2) people tend to be mindful of the things that they pray for.
Something as simple as a gratitude journal can work as a great reminder of the things that we have. Sometimes I’ll jot down “ten things I’m thankful for.” Other days if I’m feeling down about myself I might write down “ten constructive things I did today.” Entries like that remind me to focus on the good and get past the bad.
Other entries could be:
Ten reasons I know that God loves me.
Ten reasons why my husband is awesome. (especially good to write this one if he’s getting on your nerves *wink*)
Ten things I love about my house.
Ten unexpected blessings I had this week.
Ten people who love me–a lot.
Ten things I’m good at.
Ten things I like about myself.
Ten reasons my marriage rocks.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. – Philippians 4:8
Live Without Guilt
Finally I want to close with one last thought that should never be overlooked–guilt. It has it’s purpose, but can sap the joy from anyone’s life.
A burden of guilt is a heavy weight to carry around. When you’re living contrary to the way that you should be, you’re not going to feel good about yourself at the end of the day.
Even the smallest things can eat away at your soul: holding a grudge against your husband, gossiping behind a friend’s back, not holding your tongue, or looking at websites you shouldn’t. If you’re feeling guilty at the end of the day, joy will be far from your reach.
Don’t ignore your guilt–deal with it God’s way.
The problem with many of us is that we want to cling to our sin a bit longer. We know the choice that we should make, but we’re saying, “Not yet.” A flower can’t rise until its seed falls to the ground. We must die to ourselves if we desire to live.
Confess your sins to God, and do your best to walk with integrity. Repentance leads to freedom and freedom to joy!
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. – Philippians 4:9
You are loved by an almighty God,
Let’s discuss chapter 14 on Friday!
What are some of the thoughts that you have on chapter thirteen? What are your thoughts on joy? Please leave a comment below! (subscribers click through to the blog)
Find out more about the book here. And feel free to jump in to the book club with us–you can catch up on the chapters you missed anytime. We have 18 lessons in total!
Start a gratitude journal. If you already have a journal, maybe you can find a little space in it to add the things that you’re thankful for. If all you have is a pen and a plain old piece of paper, there’s one thing to be thankful for right there!