Choosing Joy


–the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. “the juxtaposition of these two images”

This morning was a perfect example of this word. As I opened my computer, I was reminded that today is the day for our annual writer’s retreat—something we look forward to for an entire year. My writer’s group is a group of six core women who have been together for years now. Sometimes we are joined by others, but mostly it is the core group who come together.

We write all day (or all night, depending on your proclivity) and only come together for an evening meal. It is during that time that we share our successes or our frustrations, our plot lines, our hopes and our dreams. We write blogs, books, devotions, and even quilting patterns. We set our BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goals) and smaller goals for the week. We talk about eating frogs (in other words tackling the hard things) and taking small bites. We laugh together, cry together, and share life with one another. We talk about our sorrows and our joys, our screw-ups and our accomplishments.

I am the only extrovert in the whole group. The rest of them fall into the introvert persuasion and love the time of isolating themselves and getting down to business. But I am the one who likes to talk about ideas, get feedback from others, and procrastinate the most. And they all put up with me, because they love meJ.

But this year is different. We canceled our writer’s retreat because of the COVID-19 isolation guidelines, and it made all of us sad. I thought about all the things we have given up during this season, not just our writer’s retreat, but everyday life situations that have become challenges for each of us. It is overwhelming sometimes.

And then I opened my computer this morning and saw the juxtaposition. The reminder of the writer’s retreat and the scripture verse that reminds me “Today I Choose Joy.”  I put that on my computer to remind me that how I react to my circumstances are a choice. No matter how bleak and grim life can get, I get to choose how I am going to respond. James 1:2-4 says, “ Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

For today, I am going to choose joy. I choose joy not because I am ignorant of the crises the world is experiencing, but because I have control over my own responses. I choose joy because I know that what I am experiencing now will develop my faith. I choose joy because, despite sometimes wondering what God is doing to allow this to happen, His ways are not my ways. I CHOOSE.

It is okay to feel confused, depressed, angry, and sad. But ultimately your choice in how your respond to those feelings is yours. How will you choose to respond today? Choosing joy can make all the difference. 

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