Joy is a feeling you shouldn’t have.  Not that we shouldn’t have joy but joy is the surprise,  the shock of a smile when you’ve got nothing to smile about.  It’s the good nights sleep when you’ve got plenty to keep you up,  the contentment when everything crashes around you.

   I remember the worst time of my life,  walking by a mirror and catching a glimpse of myself smiling.   I remember wondering why on earth I was smiling.   the smile turned to a puzzled look because of my circumstances.  My measured, perfect life was disintegrating  before my very eyes.  I was worried about housing, money,  my reputation and my children.  The puzzled look turned to wonder as I realized my circumstances had NOT stolen my joy.

   Paul’s writings frequently annoy me.   “Count it all joy. . .”  Seriously,  I am not joyful when things are tough.  I want the world to know how bad things are and feel sorry for me.  If we’re honest,  people who are always chipper are annoying.  Life isn’t always Charlestons and Andy’s  and that’s okay.  Sighing over a flat tire doesn’t mean I’ve lost my joy. 

   Sometimes we just NEED a pity party.  I set a timer for mine.  I dare suggest:  The next time  your life takes a left turn, set a timer for 15 minutes, 30 max.  Indulge in your personal,  private pity party.  You must do this alone:  Cry, remind yourself how unfair this is, how much more deserving you are,  blame everyone else.  Poor me,  nobody likes me, everybody hates me,  I’m gonna go eat a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s.  When the timer goes off,  get up,  dust yourself off and with Jesus,  make a plan to get through this.  You haven’t lost your joy or your salvation.  Give yourself permission to be who He made you.  And the fact is,  He made you with emotions,  positive and negative.  He also gave you the tools to deal with those emotions. 

Joy is  a gift,  a fruit of the Spirit according to the Word.   Grab a pencil and notebook and jot down one or two sentences on your definition of joy.