Find your inner joy

Sometimes it is so hard to stay happy and also be joyful. In the book The Happiness Dare by she writes: “Happiness is an outward expression of an inward joy this is found in Jesus” as well as “Happiness is a feeling, but it’s also a decision. It’s a choice we get to.make every day, even on our hardest days.” Sometimes we feel bad when we are happy, almost as if we might get slapped on the wrist for smiling because the things around us can be so tough, negative, or sad.

While on a walk the other day with my ever so happy dog Jorj, there was a song that came on by one of my favorite groups Mercy Me ( The name of the song was Grace Got You and what really caught my attention was the chorus:

"Sing, so the back row hears you, Glide, 'cause walking just won't do, Dance, you don't have to know how to, Ever since, ever since grace got you.  Laugh, 'til your whole side's hurting, Smile like you just got away with something Why? 'Cause you just got away with something.  Ever since, ever since grace got you.

Why is it so hard for us to find this? Growing up some of the fondest memories I have are when my whole family would get together at my grandma’s house. The desserts would come out, the chairs were pulled out and we would sit at visit. A lot of times the neighbors could hear the laughter coming from inside the house. I think we really just had that deep down joy that bubbled out into laughter because looking back, we didn’t have a whole lot, my family worked hard to make it. We chose to find the happiness in our everyday situations.

Another time was when I was in college, I volunteered in the Big Sisters program. I was assigned a junior high girl that just needed that special adult to do stuff with her during the day. I was the typical poor college student but that didn’t matter to Jen (name was changed to protect the innocent =) ), she just wanted to hang out, take my dog Max for a walk, and just do stuff around the house I shared with roommates. A couple of weeks before Christmas I found out that Jen and her mom didn’t have money for a Christmas tree, so my roommates and I got together and got one for her. I am not saying this to get happy pats on the back, I am telling you this more because it was the coolest thing to be able to get the tree to her house and leave it there as a surprise. A few days later she came to visit and told me about how her and her mom found a tree by their front door and how fun it was to be able to decorate it. Let me tell you I was “smiling like I just got away with something” cause my roommates and I did.

Music has always been a part of my life. Not in the singing part of it, or even in the playing part of it (though I was in marching band in high school TENOR SAX RULES!). I can’t even claim to dance very well to it ( I think my hips are welded together), but man do I love to put on some music and move! When my kids were younger the music definitely matched the age bracket they were in, we would turn it on, turn it loud and just move. Most of the time it was to make cleaning their rooms more fun but more often than not furniture was moved and we groved. Now with the kids older they listen to their own style of music but that just means they end up moving in the way that best suits them. I love I can turn on my music and hit the road for a walk, or find my happiness in the mundane because the music has made it ok to “Dance, even though I KNOW I don’t know how to” but boy is it still fun.

"Have you ever met those who keep humming when the song's through?  It's like they're living life to a whole different tune.  And have you ever met those that keep hoping when it's hopeless?  It's like they figured out what the rest haven't yet"

This is how I want to be. Don’t you? Yes, there are problems in the world, there are problems in our schools, churches, homes, but we can choose to let these problems rule us or we can “hope when it feels hopeless”. I haven’t stop thinking about this song since I heard it on Wednesday, I can’t say I have been humming it, but I have been thinking on the words. It is so easy to look at someone or at a situation and think badly about it especially when everyone around us it doing the same thing. It’s not easy to choose to be happy, to funnel that inner joy into your daily lives. It is actually pretty hard to do, but when you make the decision to do it, it is always worth it.

Find the good in people, in the situations you are in. Looking back on some of the toughest times in my life, I wouldn’t trade them because of the lessons I learned from them. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 it says:

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;  A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; At time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.  NKJV

There is a time for every purpose for every season. Will you stay focused on the negative or will you reach down inside find the inner joy, find the hope and “Sing, so the back row hears you”? There are days that I would love to just hide in my little bubble and close my eyes tight so that the bad around me doesn’t sink in, but it wouldn’t do any good. Instead, being there for people, smiling at your neighbor, talking with someone who it having a rough day is a far better way of spending your time. And if you still feel like the bubble sounds like a good place, then make it a place of hope by praying. Until next time:

" Promise me you'll always remember: you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think"  -Christopher Robin

Check out Mercy Me’s song: “Grace Got You” on Youtube or download it along with the rest of their album Lifer from Spotify, Applemusic and more. The Happiness Dare is available through Amazon and other retailers.

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