joyful because you belong

“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.”

Philippians 4:4-7

Hello there, dear readers, I decided to take a break off and on during the summer. I love writing, but with seminary, I write a lot of papers, and some days need to rest my brain. I am so excited because August kicks off my favorite part of the year. The heat starts to fade (thankfully being in North Carolina after two years away, I can put on jackets), and a season of fun begins. My dear Danielle’s birthday, the fall season, our anniversary, my birthday, and then of course the holidays!

This season reminds me of the joy in my life, the blessings that God has given us, even in the moments where life gets difficult, I am reminded to have joy. If you know me, you know I love having fun. I struggle with anxiety and not feeling worthy, but when I choose to remind myself of who has created and called me, I find joy. This comes directly out of Philippians 4, Paul reminds the church in Philippi to be joyful because they belong to the Lord. He then says that because of this, we can have joy and not let our worries consume us; when we choose to have joy, we are a light to everyone around us.

Joy is a choice we have to actively make, and it is one that comes from knowing who we belong to. My anxiety likes to cause me to worry about my value, that I am not doing the right things or acting the way others want me to, but in those moments, I must remind myself of who has called and created me to be.

We are created by a loving Savior who calls us to a greater purpose than we can even imagine.

Growing up, I always tried to fit in, to be what others wanted me to be, so that they would like me. I learned that this carried on through my college years and even post graduating, but as I began to step into who I have been created and called to be, I began to find joy. We aren’t called to please the people around us, we are called to step into the role we have been created to play. Each of you have talents and skills unlike everyone else, and I truly believe this. We need you. We need you to step into who God has created and called you to be.

Choose joy, because you belong.

I know that saying, be joyful and have fun, is easy to say, but difficult in action. The difference is that choosing joy is not choosing to be happy. Happiness fades, joy says that despite my circumstance, I will remember who created me and gave everything to love me, and because of that, I will have joy. You belong, God sent His son to die for you, and because of His resurrection, you can enter a relationship with Him. He has saved a place for you; you belong in the family.

I love letting people know that they have a place at the table. I think of the holiday dinners throughout this half of the year. Groups of people, biological and non-biological families coming together and being joyful over a meal. I love helping everyone know they have a seat at the table, we don’t do kids tables, we just add more chairs. You have a place, and when you know you belong, there is a feeling of connectedness. Because of that connectedness, we have joy. I love laughing with people and playing games, because no one has to put on a show. You don’t have to pretend, you just need to be.

All this month I want to talk about joy and fun, because I think they are the overflow of the love of God in our hearts. No one likes to be around angry-grumpy people, because they feel cold. Jesus chose to share a meal with people and love them authentically, and we need to do the same. It’s easy to judge and be angry at others, but the Bible says that the fruits of the Spirit come from a connectedness to Christ. Anger doesn’t factor in. Remember that you belong in the family of God, and because of that, you can choose to rest in that joy.

I will see you next week; choose to be joyful because you belong at the table.

-Joshua Thomas

About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__

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