Monday, November 10, 2008

Define Joy

Joy is a big part of life... no matter how you define it or what brings it to you. I'm sure there are as many things that instill joy in people as there are people to describe it.

Maybe for you it's the smile on your child's face in the early morning hours when you walk in the room to lift them from their crib.

Maybe it's walking along the beach as the waves crash on the shore and seagulls make a choir in the distance.

Maybe it's pulling into a gas station where the price is below $3/gallon.

To each their own.

But here's a question: have you stopped long enough to figure out what brings you joy, define what that joy feels like to you and realize that, like everything in life, it can be a choice?


I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn't forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn't joy... it's CHOOSE. It's looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it's that Pollyanna personified thing again... but living joyful beats being cynical any day of the week.

My friend Tam asks a lot of questions, both on her blog and in her emails... she peppers me with questions that nearly always make me stop to think before firing off a simple answer. I like that challenge. On her blog awhile back she posed the question: how would you define joy?

She didn't ask what brings you joy... she asked for it's definition. And I had to think about it for a bit. I tried to think of what REAL joy feels like to me... not the fleeting moments of happiness or elation, but that real, deep down, nothing can touch the lightness of my soul kind of joy. Here's what I decided for myself:

Joy: the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched.

That's what it feels like and means to me. Take a minute today to think about what joy is for you and then take it one step further. Take a moment to leave yourself a note... on your nightstand, on your bathroom mirror, by your computer... leave yourself a reminder to stop, take a deep breath and consciously choose joy today.

Trust me, it's worth your time.


  1. Like always, you speak to my heart. I have thought about that a lot lately. I am not sure some days what the answer is, but I am searching for the right answers.

    Today....Joy is seeing both my son and daughter come home and two little dogs jumping (really) for joy as my kids walk through the door. That is the kind of joy that warms the heart.

    Have a great week.

  2. That is it. That is why I sat in the tub with shampoo on my head crying over my brother and my family's pain and my aunt and more pain and after a while I felt that feeling in my heart: That joy that can't be explained except to say that my heart says, "God is."

    Thank you for praying for us, for me. I posted that video for you. Did you see it?

  3. So glad you liked the Tuscany pictures! I want to live there...

    I can only second your definition of joy. That kind of joy is a true blessing that can´t be taken away by circumstances.

    Oh, and this: "trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it".
    Another challenge for me... ;-)

  4. It is a choice isn't it? There have been times in my life when everything is going great and I've completely missed the sheer joy of it...other times, like Anita talked about, when I shouldn't feel joy at all,that it just fills me to overflowing. I think the difference for me is choosing to be connected with the Giver of Joy~

  5. Wow, that is timely... Thank you. Would you mind if I linked you? please let me know...

  6. Joy is not only hard to define, it is hard to write about. I am a happy and optimistic person who gets up every morning thankful for another glorious day.

    I am happiest when something I have done brings joy to another and I try to never do anything that dims another person's joy.

  7. This is a concept that I have tried to instill in all of my children; to choose joy! Some have grabed on and held tight. Some live their lives with the "why me" attitude. Of course we know which ones experience "joy" on a regular basis.

    I think that I must have that Deep Joy you speak of, because it enables me to experience joy in the silliest little things...

    ...a soak in a hot bath, cocoa on a cool night, stroking my dogs silky ears, listening for my husbands breath in the middle of the night, seeing my children and grand children smile, finding new friends through their blogs - a making them a part of your life.

    People are truly blessed when these "simple joys" bring them the most happiness.

    Bless you Sara.

  8. We gave our firstborn the middle name JOY for this very reason. We need to choose it.
    The joy we felt when we were FINALLY pregnant..and the almost 2 years of waiting and trying was in God's choosing and we needed to find JOY in the whole experience. --whether we were blessed with baby or not!
    This is wonderful. Thank you.

  9. Beautifully said. Can I add one little bit? When you choose joy... joy chooses you too! It is so worth it to define it for you and see how it shows up in your life... I'd say you and Tam have some "synergy" going that is so working for you! I love hearing about what makes you stop and think and question things... MORE PLEASE!

  10. That's a beautiful definition of joy. Thanks for giving me something to think on and for the inspiration you are.

  11. youre so good! this is so fabulous...your definition should be in Webster =)

    i always notice a lot of "if you" and "let" words in the Bible. again, "choice" words. we have to decide, in our free will what we will choose - and God will be quick to respond...either way.

    love you Gitz!

  12. I love reading what joy means to you... it is really hard to put into words, isn't it?

    @coloradolady: I'm so happy you get to see your kids!!! And I totally get the dog jumping thing :)

    @anita: I'm praying for you aunt... cancer is just unbearable and I'm sorry your family is going through it. And I'm grateful your joy is still in you.

    @anna g: if you forget your joy look at your Tuscany photos again. Bliss!

    @robin: I know... just talked to a friend last night about the perfect times in our lives that don't know are perfect until they've passed by. What a waste!

    @peri: (i'm shortening that long name!) Link away. :)

    @sherri: you're right, about bringing it to others. BTW, love your photo... that hasn't shown up before!

    @neas: simple joys are sometimes the best, aren't they? Makes me want a cup of cocoa...

    @amy: what a great middle name. She's so cute I'm sure she was worth the wait...

    @vicky: you're so right... it does choose us back. And I love your questions too ;)

    @anonymous: you're kind. :)

    @Tam: YOU'RE good... your questions make me think :) Never thought about those intention words in the bible... you're so right. Love you back.

  13. great post! for me joy is seeing people achieve all that they can. joy is being with my family. joy is seeing my son and daughters develop. joy is hearing a chord that leads to a new sound in worship. joy is seeing christians do it right. joy is blogging.

  14. i put one on my blog...thanks!!! you are so gifted. you NEED to start selling them.

    love you,

  15. Hi! I just came across your blog... love it. Your art work is amazing. :)

  16. Hi Sara,
    I just ran across your blog from Angie Smith's. I saw on her side bar your art work that say's "Choose Joy." I love it!!!! I got so excited when I saw it...and this is the reason...
    I had to share my blog with's called "Choose Joy."
    Long story short....I gave birth to my daughter Joy Elizabeth on 9/15/08. She was stillborn. Joy had a very rare condition called limb-body wall complex. I knew this early on in the pregnancy and they gave her no chance of survival outside my womb. We named her Joy. Choosing joy is a daily choice for me and of course it's not always easy.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog. I just wanted to pop by real quick and thank you for your artwork. It brought a huge smile to my face.


  17. Thank you so much for this post. It's gonna be my new motto for '09.
    God bless, and Merry Christmas!!!

  18. I love the definition you've shared of joy!

    Joy is an anchor in my life - that circumstances cannot pull up as long as I choose for that anchor to remain. Joy is SO rooted in trust!


  19. Hi Sara!! My name is Becky and I just found your blog!! And I love it!! We must be kindred spirits because I, too, have and do choose JOY!! Each Monday I do a post called Joy For Our Journey. One of my all time fave songs is "I Choose Joy" by Christian artist Larnelle Harris. Have you ever heard it? It's not on playlist or it would be on my blog!

    Well, I won't ramble on. I will be back, though. Glad I found you!
    Joyful Blessings,
    Becky :o)

  20. joy is my dad's favorite word! i love that about him...his favorite book of the bible is philippians, too. i have a hard time having pure, shining joy. still struggling with ppd, and today is one of those tough days. your post actually made me cry, good tears, yes, and i appreciate your post.

  21. randomly found your blog and just wanted to say hi and what a great post!