“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.”
Choosing joy is hard. Often, it’s not because of hardships, but because of how exhausted we can get. We have so much to do in our days, that we focus on the to-do lists and projects piling up, and by the end of the day, we just want to tune out. This becomes a cycle, and when hardships do come up, we have no space to process and have rest because of the busyness. When we look at the verse above, we understand that we belong to God, we have been designed with purpose and need to show others that same great love. The verse also goes on to encourage us not to worry because God is with you. Now, this is not saying that seeking professional counseling and therapy is wrong, and that all you need to do is pray things away. God has gifted counselors and therapists with their abilities to help you process trauma and anxiety. The concept of joy is not to pretend everything is good all the time, having joy is knowing that in all things, God is in control and He wants you to live in freedom.
Part of finding joy, is creating fun in order to celebrate goodness over dwelling on hardship.
Dear Danielle and I have learned that when things get hard, we need to create fun. We need to create connection with each other and we need to make space to laugh. We need to create a space that is free from distraction and be intentional with doing what we enjoy. A month ago, we had a Christmas in July weekend. We pulled out our tree, strung up some lights, and made some holiday meals. We even cranked up the AC and made a fire to really get in the mood while we watched Christmas movies. We intentionally chose to create fun.
Creating fun means acknowledging the hard days but not letting it control your outlook.
That day was fantastic, but it was not easy to do. We had to make sure we had work done and prepare for the fun. Sounds a little weird right? What I’ve learned is that it can be really easy to be serious all the time, you can be hyper focused on your work, but in doing so you miss out on the things that are truly important. Danielle and I have been through crazy moments in our marriage, from losing my job right after we got married, moving away, a pandemic, moving back and having no clue what’s next. It can be easy to let hardship and difficulty be the outlook that we live with.
We have to acknowledge the hardship but not let it direct our lives. We have these themed days because they bring us joy, we get to be silly and while we are in a season of unknowns, we have fun in the blessings that God has given us. Our focus shifts when we create fun in our lives.
Creating fun means being who God made you to be, not the image others want of you.
With an image driven world it can be easy to try and please others. The truth is, we are not made to please others, but to live into who God calls us to be. I’ve learned that when I live authentically, I feel empowered because I am living into who God created me to be. In ministry, this has been difficult for me, I see leaders in family ministry and they have this cool factor about them, for some reason they wear shades of gray and off-white and have stepped off a Yeezy runway. I start to compare myself to these mega-church leaders, but I have to stop myself. If that’s who they are, fantastic! That’s not who I am, and I have to be okay with that. I’ve been told in many places that I must do certain things or be the greatest communicator, or my least favorite, have more “woo.”
This may not make sense to you, and that’s okay, the point I’m getting across is that God made us individuals. We need to live in that way, and fun allows for us to fully live into the image that God made us to be. I love planning extravagant fun days, because that’s who I am. So, of course I’ll marathon Christmas movies and make a turkey, it fills me up and reminds me of who God has made me to be.
This may have seemed a bit disjointed, my past two weeks have been filled with creating space for fun. We celebrated dear Danielle’s birthday and then went to the beach with my family the next. The main thing I wanted to communicate is this; joy is creating fun in order to celebrate goodness over dwelling on hardship. Don’t let the busy nature of life cause you to be worn down, create fun. Make more space in your life to fill your emotional tank, so that when the hardship comes, you have the capacity to navigate it effectively.
Create fun; acknowledge the hard stuff and remember who you have been created to be.
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__