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Joy Killers

Have you ever met someone who makes your day just feel warmer and brighter the instant you are around them?
Often called an Optimist, these folks look on the bright side of life, have a smile on their face, and have a kind word to share, no matter what their own circumstances may be.
I like these people. 
I am blessed to have a choice number of these kind of people in my life.
It’s terribly difficult to not let circumstances affect our moods and interactions with others. I’m constantly telling my girls that our emotions may be hard to control, but only we can direct our own emotions, no matter what state our life is at that moment.
But with all the baggage and battles coming at us, isn’t it important to first identify the things that kill our joy? In order to change so that we can be someone’s sunshine, bring glory to God, and just not be a miserable dud all the time, it’s essential we identify the thieves of joy.

5 Things That Sap Our Joy:


1. Bad Relationships
 
 
 We constantly warn our kids about the dangers of choosing the wrong friends, and yet, when an apparent toxic relationship comes into my own life, I am often quick to forget all of my own rules and suffer through it.
All relationships in our lives should encourage growth, support healthy and moral choices, and lovingly guide when we are taking bad, destructive options.
However, there are times when people take more than we can give, demand and manipulate, which in the end causes weariness and discouragement.
Now, there are relationships in our life that we have no choice about. Relatives come to mind. Though we may limit our interactions with them, set up boundaries, and maybe chose to forgo certain events, they will always be there.
But for those relationships that we CAN choose, the ones that steal our joy because our energy is being hijacked and our confidence is being snuffed out, can I just encourage you to really reconsider keeping that individual in your life?
This life is but a vapor, one moment here, gone the next. To waste our resources, especially the most valuable ones like time and strength on a person that does not give back to you the same, is not only wasteful but very unwise.

2.Busyness

 

We are constantly making lists, going to events, checking Facebook, reading articles, running errands, managing projects, and just doing life. Our hearts and minds are full of musts and nows. But we are missing the big picture here.
We were created to bring God glory by doing His will, not doing our agenda.
In the book of Galatians, when the Apostle Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit, we see that joy made the list. The question here though, is how  do we get the fruits of the Spirit?
This is one of those circumstances in life when time,energy,and focus need to come into play. When we daily commit ourselves to the Lord, constantly being conscious of His presence and workings, we are living in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
Making the choice every day, every hour, every minute to be ruled and guided by the Holy Spirit puts you in that category of people who gets to enjoy those fruits of the spirit, including joy.
Turning off distractions and recognizing that things which seem so important are not and should not take precedence over listening, waiting, and acting on what God wants from us. This is the “secret” to joy, though it is really no secret since it is plainly written out in the Bible. Doing what we are supposed to be doing and doing it with focus and full attention brings happiness to our hearts. It also brings peace and gentleness into our lives.
3.Making it all about me
 

Am I the only one that genuinely gets sick of myself? Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I find myself having that inner dialogue and hearing the words, “Move on. Suck it up. Get over it.”
Iphone, selfie, and “me time” are HUGE phrases in our daily lives nowadays.
When did service to others become degrading? When did feminism turn from equal rights for women into bringing your husband a cool drink on a hot day is simply derogatory? As a culture, we fight the idea of putting others first because, let’s be honest, it’s so much easier to think about yourself first.
I know it. I do it all the time. Every day.
But what if for a moment we think about fighting that urge and put aside what we want and look on others.
Now, I know there are some wonderful, self-sacrificing folks out there, so do not get me wrong. But can we honestly say that our average day is majority rule: others?
For me, I am not sure.
My comfort, my time, my energy are always in the forefront. And when those things get interrupted or inconvenienced, well I assure you my feathers are ruffled.
But then I think on those times when I have served without expecting anything in return. What was I feeling? Was I miserable? Was I depressed?
No.
I had joy. The kind that you just cannot fake. The pure, unadulterated kind that makes you walk around with a goofy smile on your face the rest of the day.
When we turn our focus outward, instead of inward, we find joy.
4.Not asking
 

God is in the business of miracles. He loves to show His power, presence, and majesty on a daily basis. The problem does not lie within Him, but within us.
We are simply not asking anymore.
All too often, when a situation arises, my initial reaction is not to go to God but to ask a friend for help, read a book, or Google it. (I am not lying when I say that if the possibility of my Google search history ever got published I would find a cave and live in it for the rest of existence. Or, they would just commit me.)
When we fail to ask God to work, we limit Him. Seems an odd thought that we could limit the Creator of the universe, but it is true. He so desires to hear our request, to see us looking up as He does His work, and to hear our ” Oohhs” and “Aahhs”.
But we are failing in simply requesting a miracle. We aren’t keeping our eyes open for his workings, answers, and blessings.

5.Holding on to the past

 

This will touch a nerve or two I am sure. but it needs to be said.
Time is such a bizarre and curious thing.
Our pasts have formed us into who we are. Life experiences affect our personalities, quirks, fears, and reactions. But this does not mean that our past is our future.
Sure, we want to hold onto the good and use that to hurdle us to the next phase. But when it comes to the dark, ugly closets from before, we want to quietly rock and nurture our wounds, holding onto grudges.
We need to let go.
Christ brought forgiveness.
Christ brought healing.
Christ brought resurrection.
He has brought so much, but when we do not allow ourselves to move on,whether by forgiving ourselves, forgiving others, or even stopping the licking of wounds by reliving them, then we stop ourselves from moving onto the joy of new beginnings.
I know that there is necessity, at times, to acknowledge past hurts.
I can not think of Molly without simultaneously feeling the pain of her slow road to death. There are brief moments when I recall the ache and loneliness I felt as a confused child when my parents were divorced. Intimacy can hurdle into something dark and ugly when suddenly, without warning, I recall the abuse I received as a child.
But I know that staying in that dark place for too long is dangerous and unhealthy. My joy can easily be ripped away from me day after day if I allow myself to hold onto the past for too long.

Dear Lord,
You created joy and happiness. We are made in your image, so I know that you smile and relish in the good things. But I so often get in the way of joy. Help me to be quiet and still as I listen to your words of wisdom. Help me to know how to spend my time and with whom. Help me keep my eyes open for the things that you are doing around me. And lift me up out of the muck and mud of the past so that I can enjoy, with happiness, my future. 

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