“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.”
I’ve learned in life that there are always going to be awkward unknown moments. They happen and it’s normal, but doesn’t always feel great. I’m sure you’ve been invited to a party where you knew one person, but at the party that person leaves and you’re forced to talk to strangers. Or maybe you flash back to a first day of school and you have to figure out where to sit. When I think about these moments in my life, there are people who stand out that made the effort to be that joyful moment. They broke the ice, invited me to sit with them, and took on the awkward feeling and changed it with joy.
We can be joy to everyone around us.
Yesterday was the anniversary of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening in Disney World; and I was on that opening team! I think about how fun opening day was, but look back to how terrified I was for training. I was walking into a place where I knew no one, and I was faced with a choice. I decided to be joy to everyone I was around. So, I decided to take one the awkwardness and have fun with everyone. In doing this, which side note, I am not a super extravert, but I chose to really get to know everyone and be goofy.
I tried to learn everyone’s name (the Disney nametags helped with that) and I tried to help everyone not feel awkward around me.
I have learned that by being joy to everyone around you, you become a safe place where people can feel fully known and loved.
Day one of that training also gave us the chance to ride the Millennium Falcon early which was awesome, and I chose to have the loudest time on the ride. I’m sure it was annoying, but I saw smiles and kept hollering out. We rode it many times over and I was always in top form.
I share this experience as a tangible example of being joy in the life of everyone around you. You don’t need to be a goober like me, but you can always bring life into the heart of the people around you.
Scripture tells us to always be joyful, because we belong to the Lord and we can bring our anxieties to Him. This moment in time, I was scared, my anxiety was palpable and I was so worried of what people thought of me. Despite it, I chose joy. I chose to welcome others because it’s what I needed myself.
Having joy is not toxic positivity, true joy is trusting in God and reminding yourself of who you have been created to be.
The point of this is not to pretend to be fake, it’s to re-center your mind on who you are. You are loved by God and designed with power and purpose. When you choose to be joy to everyone around you, you are that reminder in their life. You are filled with that love and choose to pour it out to others. That’s the way followers of Christ are called to live, a mean spirit is not living in the Spirt.
Look at the day in front of you, and begin to see it as an opportunity to love others. Be joy to everyone around you, because just like you, they have been made in God’s image and are worthy of love. Step into awkward moments, make people laugh, and above all, be a safe place where people feel fully known and loved.
It’s been a tough season for many, and there is so much anger, anger leads to the dark side. That’s not just a Star Wars joke, but a real, spiritual warning. Anger and fear destroy, love rebuilds and renews. Choose to be joy to everyone around you. You’ll be amazed at the new friends and the renewed heart you’ll have.
Until next week, my friends.
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__