What I call my “Joy Journey” continues beckoning me forward in abandonment of old ideas that no longer serve me. Throughout the month of January, God’s curriculum for educating me on my Word for 2021 included stripping away former definitions. I now realize how little I truly understand about joy from His perspective. But, finding joy in the North Star, helped change that.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
finding joy in the oddest places
You can read my introduction to my One Word choice of Joy in this POST. Since settling on Joy as my word for 2021, I eagerly greet each day wondering where it will show up. This requires a new level of faith for me, considering the troubled life circumstances I experienced over the past several years. Amazed, the word “Joy” met me in some odd places this month. No one can convince me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Seeking Him in prayer at the start of each day, I ask He open my eyes to all opportunities for joy.
On one particular day, joy was not foremost in my mind; in fact, annoyance described my attitude best that day. I often choose taking a walk when struggling emotionally, so this day I headed out through the neighborhood in search of a better attitude. Long after Christmas, I noticed everyone had put away the seasonal decorations I enjoyed viewing on my walks. As I muttered my annoyances with the day, I glanced at one house. There in the window rested a red, lighted “JOY” sign. I agree, the perfect way to grab my attention and in such an unexpected way.
The north star
Even before the red “JOY” sign, God seemed proficient at putting the word “joy” before my eyes. It popped up in conversations, books I read or emails at work! I chalked this up to a sensitivity for the word since that was my focus word of the year. But each night as I closed my time out journaling, I sat astonished at the lessons learned about joy that day. Most lessons were small, like finding joy in ordinary tasks like dish washing. Others challenged old ideas about joy. I didn’t realize how stuck I was in thinking of joy as a simple emotion. Certain days God pointed out my focus on obtaining joy as an emotion. Joy is so much more than that!
My foundational verse for my joy journey is Psalm 16:11, reminding me that I find joy in God’s Presence. After a trying day where I mostly failed in finding joy, God reminded me of Psalm 16:11 in a unique way. I delight in taking a walk in the evening after dark, regardless of the temperature. After I finish my work, I find it super refreshing but also exhilarating and relaxing both at the same time. Not to mention the science geek in me adores star gazing. On this particular evening, I stood transfixed on the North Star.
Joy and the North Star
My mind travelled to thoughts of navigators using the North Star as a compass when out on the sea. The North Star is known for staying immoveable in the night sky, while the other stars revolve around it. The fact is, it does move slightly, but it steadily with reliability points “true north”. I thought of an analogy I shared with a friend who was experiencing trials with a wayward child. She wrestled with “who” her child needed her to be, and I encouraged her to be the “North Star” for him. Pointing him to the “true north” of their home, values and faith so he could easily find his way home.
As I remembered that conversation, God reminded me of Psalm 16:11. He showed me when I was lost, unable to find joy, He was the “North Star”. His Presence never moved. When everything swirled around me, when circumstances shifted, He was always Present. I only needed to look to the “North Star” to find my way home to joy. I laughed loud and long, right there in the middle of the street head lifted to the night sky. My neighbor came out wondering if I “needed” anything. “No”, I said, “I just found everything I needed right there”, pointing to the sky.
Joy is Like Manna
I’m sharing my update on joy with you as promised on Mindfulness Monday for a reason. The other thing God most impressed on my heart this month about joy is, it lives in the present. I share often about mindfulness, and staying “in the present moment”. Joy, like the manna the Israelites gathered, can only be found “today”, in this present moment. I can’t find joy for today, in the past and I can’t borrow it from tomorrow. I must find it in the here and now.
Besides all of the wonderful ways a mindfulness practice benefits you, now I can say it also adds joy to your life. Choosing to see all of the good God has for me in the present moment ignites joy in my heart. Instead of simply “reminiscing” about joy from some past moment or “wondering if” joy will greet me tomorrow, I can gather it today. Truly savoring what is right before me each day fosters gratitude, ignites joy and envelops me in love. Even on especially trying days, choosing to accept with gratitude what is before me, transforms disappointment into joy.
Finding Joy in the Present
Armed with this knowledge, I employ a few practical methods to keep me focused on joy in the present. While not successful every moment or every day, these do help me stay grounded and focused rather than bouncing around hoping for the best.
- Begin with Joy. During my quiet time, I take a few moments in quiet contemplation asking God to help me focus on His Presence with me. The reminder of His Presence starts my day with joy.
- Choose Joy Now. Throughout my day, I seek to remain present, with gratitude for what I have in this moment, not what I wish I had or used to have. It seems simplistic, but gratitude ignites joy.
- End with Joy. At the close of my day, I spend time journaling all the joy moments of my day. I sit quietly in the joy of God’s Presence; joy breeds more joy!
finding joy in the north star
Just as the North Star faithfully appears night after night in the sky, God’s Presence faithfully remains with me. In His Presence is fullness of joy, and I can always find my way home to joy by living in the present moment. The joy I find in His Presence is constant, unshakable and unchanging.
My January Joy Journey was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, but in the end increased my faith. I knew when I started I needed to believe big if I wanted to experience joy in 2021. January’s journey did not disappoint, such a small word with so much to teach. I remain committed to all God has for me in the teeny tiny world of Big Joy.