About a year and a half ago, I was feeling completely broken and empty on the inside. One morning during this difficult time, I woke up, and for a split second, I actually felt a sense of peace. It was that peace that is felt in the moment you begin to open your eyes. It’s also that peace that disappears as soon as your eyes adjust to the sunlight coming in and reality suddenly sets in. Reality sets in, and you immediately just wish that everything could be a dream. You wish that you could just go back to sleep and never have to face real life. Has anyone else ever had a morning like this before? As I took a moment to face my reality that morning, I decided to scroll through my pinterest to look for a new lock-screen. The first picture I came across read, “Today I choose joy!” For some reason, that picture felt like a message from God. It felt like God was telling me, “Hey! You’re going to be okay! All you have to do is CHOOSE ME!” That morning, through my tears and sobs, I downloaded that picture with the message “Today I Choose Joy” to make it the new lockscreen on my phone, and it is still the same today.
Have you ever considered the possibility that someone can be considered a happy person, yet they may actually be completely empty on the inside? For years, I believed that my ultimate goal in life was to be happy. I set this goal for myself years and years ago after sitting down and writing a letter to my future self. I strived every single day after that to be the happiest person around. It was an everyday battle that I faced until around one year ago. That goal I had set for myself, in completely honest terms, was just setting myself up for complete failure for the next 7 years of my life. I could make sure to smile at every person that glanced in my direction. I could be involved in all of the different social groups. I could attend all of the best parties. I could be dating some of the most popular, best looking guys in town. I could be posting all of the ‘perfect’ posts on instagram. I could even LOOK like the most happy girl around, but the truth is, none of these things ever satisfied and fulfilled my goal to always be “happy.”
The truth is, happiness is just an emotion that is based upon all of the little things that are going well in our lives around us. The hard truth is, it is impossible to feel happy 24/7/365! The smile that I made sure everyone saw when looking at me eventually fell into a dull frown. The social groups that I was a part of eventually came to an end. The parties that I attended always left me feeling more alone than ever before. The boys that I put all of my hope in would eventually let me down. Many of my instagram posts were staged, and reality would hit every time I hit “post.” The truth is, happiness is fleeting. Happiness is an impossible feeling to feel all day everyday! It is the hard truth that I eventually had to come to terms with after years and years of striving for something that can simply never be achieved.
Joy, on the other hand, is not like this. No, Joy found in the Lord is nothing like the happiness that I, along with so many others, search for for so many years. Joy in the Lord remains even in and through the trials that we face. What a difference!!! The happiness that the world tries to hold onto can never even begin to compare to the joy that we can CHOOSE to find in the Lord.
When we look around at the world surrounding us, it is so easy to become caught up in all of the negativity. It is so easy to be distracted and discouraged by the trials and persecutions that take place on a daily basis, but it is in those moments of doubt and distraction that the Lord calls us to cling onto the truth that is only found in Him. The word of God says that God is GOOD and that He works all things together for His divine purpose. (Romans 8:28) I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing that I’m 100% sure of, it is God’s word to His people. When you begin choosing to see things in a different perspective, you will also begin to recognize that maybe the trials that we are faced with were never meant to break us. Maybe the trials of this world are given to us as a gift to make us more like Jesus! In James we are told to consider it ALL joy! (James 1: 2-3) This statement made by James is the same truth that helped Jesus face the most cruel and evil, yet equally beautiful and world changing trial to have ever existed, the cross, with a heart of joy. ( Hebrew 12:2) It is when we begin to shift our focus to what God is actually doing through the trials in our lives that we can also begin to see these trials as joy knowing that Jesus ultimately wants good for us!
The truth is, you cannot fake joy. Joy is something that you either have or you don’t have, and I promise you, you can tell a difference! The bible actually tells us throughout scripture that joy is the very essence of who God truly is! (1 Chronicles 16:27) If the Lord is filled with joy, and the Lord is shaping His children to become more and more like Him, why would we not desire to be filled with that same joy? Why should we not recognize the difference between a world that is full of circumstantial happiness and an everlasting joy that is being offered to us?
About a year and a half ago, the day that I opened my eyes and struggled to face my reality, turned out to be one of the best days of my life. It was that day that I realized that I have a choice to make every single day. I wake up every morning, and have the choice to choose joy that can only be found in the Lord. God has taught me that joy is a gift from Him that cannot be taken away. I do not have to depend on the circumstances of life anymore when I have the joy of the Lord living inside of me. Today, my satisfaction is found in a new life that I have been given in Christ, and my prayer is that everyone can find that same everlasting satisfaction in Him.
This same joy that I have experienced is available to everyone; all you have to do is start by making that choice!
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
Lydia is a part of Team LO and a 7 on the enneagram. Some of her favorite things include coffee dates, hanging with friends, and spending time with Jesus. She plans to pursue a career in counseling when she graduates in the spring!
Follow Lydia on Instagram @lrdozier