Jan 29, 2014

Realize Joy

My cousin Patsy wrote this beautiful post on joy that I'd like to share with you.  I feel she was prompted to write this as it is something I personally needed to hear last night.  Patsy has always inspired me on my journey to be my absolute best by the light of her sweet spirit and strong testimony.  Enjoy.

JOY: (Ponder-some Thoughts and Decisions)
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A re-beginning. A journey of Realizing Joy. And an invitation to let yourself rejoice more freely.


In a moment of reflection Friday night, I made some decisions, small yet impactful, that this is the time to learn better to Rejoice. And that means I need to choose to feel joy in the things that are joyful to me and stop feeling shame for what others may think of it.

I appreciate, humbly and profoundly. BUT – I hesitate to rejoice. I hesitate to speak. I hesitate to write publicly. Because of my perception that the public perception of “God”, “Christ”, or “Christian” will label me, and will label me very negatively. That I will cause offense. I do not rejoice because I worry that others will be offended that I rejoice in something they do not believe in, or perceive negatively or hurtfully. I’ve put a bushel over my joy. It begins to darken my spirit, and even my perception of myself. 




Even in writing the above, part of me worries that some of my audience has already dropped out; ‘oh, this must be a religious plug.’ That may simply be my long habit of worry speaking to me.  
 
But this is not so much a message about God, but a message about feeling free to rejoice in that which brings one joy. Is it a message about freeing oneself from fear of public opinion’s reprisal. The Media seems to be good at creating that perception, at dividing rather then uniting and uplifting us.

People are beautiful and we are more beautiful in a chorus of individual and collective rejoicing, in the goodness in our own individual hearts. For me, my relationship with God is large part of that. I see His goodness and beauty in so many things. BUT … I am a hesitant rejoicer.

I’ve been inspired recently by friends’ posts who speak joyfully and openly about their love for God, their appreciation for His presence in their lives, for His place in their journey. It seems a freeing place to be. They do more than appreciate quietly and privately – they rejoice.

I decided in some contemplative moments during a long drive home on Friday night, while quite randomly landing upon a Christian rock station full of unashamed songs of Joy, that part of feeling joy is expressing it. And expressing it without shame. Not hiding it quietly in a small place. Paul spoke to the Romans of being not ashamed. 


How can I find joy if I fill myself with unfounded shame? I don’t think both can exist in the same place.

I decided to do something : to worry less I will more openly share joyful moments and joyful thoughts, without worry over what someone else might think.

I started a ‘joy journal’ with little commitment two years ago. It has about five entries. Perhaps I should begin again. Or perhaps I should start a blog like those that have inspired me. Or perhaps I should simply not be ashamed to share a post that has the word God in it.




So that is where I will begin my journey again. To Realize Joy, unhindered, in my life. Realize is a two part verb: to come to an awareness of, and also, to make a reality of. I plan to be more authentic to my whole self in what I write, in what I say, less protected and more freely jubilant.

I am going to share my joy in Godly things, in things which are pure and beautiful, in the quite moments of feeling God’s love, or Christ’s sustaining, of beautiful moments observed, of edifying conversations shared.

Simply to share, unashamed and unhindered. Not to preach, or condemn or offend. That spirit is not in me. It never has been in me. I’ve have worried for too long that others will not understand, that others will label me, although no one ever has. There is no fear in love. I am choosing to step aside of fear so I can feel Gods love more fully. And love myself more fully.

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We need to resist the urge to label, not only others, but ourselves as well.  The ways we talk about ourselves and about others should not be critical, but positive, productive, and supportive.  Part of the offense is that both sides [Christians and non-Christians] feel the divide I've just described - that society has labeled them. If we can help people, of all walks of life, take down the labels we are suddenly more free to simply love and be loved, for who uniquely we are.


I join Patsy in saying:  I welcome your thoughts, your inspiration and your joy. Maybe we can all Realize Joy, each in our own place and way, more fully this year.

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