We all long to experience joy. Do we opt for safe joy when Jesus offers full joy?
When I was a little girl, I didn’t wear that many dresses. On the occasions I did, it was a big deal to me. I loved twirling, seeing the room spin while my dress opened up into a swirl of colors. Made me laugh. I’d grab my Radio Shack AM radio, turn the dial to find a static free station, and I’d work the room like I was auditioning for Flashdance.
One night when my aunts and uncles were all together, I was allowed to stay up late. I wanted to show off a new, long nightgown I’d gotten for Christmas. So, I bounced into the middle of the room and spontaneously busted out some swan lake moves. I was expecting some oohs and aahs. Instead, the room exploded into roars of laughter. One uncle rolled onto the floor hoopin’ and hollering, while another aunt sprayed her drink in the air; they were laughing so hard.
As I stood there confused, someone finally let me in on what was so funny. They said I was a funny ballerina because underneath my beautiful nightgown, I forgot I was still wearing my old flannel PJs.
My mom thought it was important for me to stay warm. So, she had me pair my nightgowns with PJ pants. I turned around and ran into the bedroom, shut the door and just bawled my eyes out. I was so embarrassed.
I carry the same type of suspicion about joy.
I’m afraid to trust joy fully, because I don’t want to be wrong about joy.
Don’t be misled. I am a joyful person. But I’m learning that my joy is “safe”.
* I am a celebrate-junkie. If a day is going beige, I can figure out a random reason to make a special dinner, desert, or invite a friend over.
* I love encouraging others. I can’t imagine a better way to spend time with people in everyday life and hearing them share stories of faith.
* I have tasted God’s joy in hard times. I have trusted God through extended periods of trial and I’ve tasted the joy of His peace and presence, even when life hurt.
When it comes to being joyful for myself or personal pursuits, I am very hesitant to abandon myself to joy.
You see, my misconceptions about joy don’t stem from God. They point to new areas He’s asking me to trust Him in.
I thought faith was mainly used to get us through difficulties.
God has been showing me faith is equally needed to accept the grace and gift of joy.
I’ve been asking God to help me experience what Jesus calls “joy made full“.
“…These things I speak in the world
so that they (disciples) may have My joy made full in themselves.”
~ Jesus’ final prayer before He faces the cross
Full is translated in the Greek as “pleroo”.
– Filled to the brim.
– Full Joy
In response, I’ve been asking myself — what is keeping me from full joy?
Top 3 Misconceptions
Here are the Top 3 Misconceptions I’ve been holding and the Full Joy Truths I’m discovering :
Misconception#1: Full Joy feels irresponsible. I have so many problems that are unresolved. Full joy seems dismissive of these important issues. You can’t just be happy!
Full Joy Truth#1: Jesus has paid the price for my shortcomings, so that I’m free to enjoy His grace. To the best of my creativity, I can find moments and pursuits that bring me joy. And I’m free to enjoy it guilt-free!
“How much more will the blood of Christ who… offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?~ Hebrews 9:14
Misconception #2: Full Joy feels reckless. You will open yourself to temptation once you feel so much pleasure. Stop!
Full Joy Truth #2: The fruit of the Spirit is joy. As long as I value the nearness of God, joy is good. Nothing can separate me from God’s love.
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good: I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Psalm 73:28
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing … thinkable or unthinkable.., can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:38-39
Misconception #3: Joy feels self-deceptive. Look at your negative attitudes, the habits you fail to change. You don’t deserve joy.
Full Joy Truth #3: I deserve joy because of who God has destined me to become, not because of who I am now. Because of God’s perfecting work in my life, I can enjoy joy without embarrassment for my past or the present faults.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2
“But in all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer.” Romans 8:37
As we enter into this time of Easter, celebrating the joy of new life through Christ, I am personally asking Jesus to give me the faith to step into the middle of life, twirl and spin with joy.
It’s definitely risky. But, I know He’s sitting front row and center, clapping for me.
Some may say this joy sounds self-centered? I don’t think so. Joy is God-centered. Jesus loves me. This I know.
How are you experiencing joy in the current chapter of your life?
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*Today’s post is beings a new April series — Discvoering New Joy. Check out our topic for today and next week’s new topic!
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Today’s Topic 4/7:
Share how you experience JOY in your current chapter of life?
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Share something new you’re learning in your relationship with Jesus?
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I feel the same way – a bit self conscious about experiencing “full joy.” Your list of misconceptions and truths rings true!
I think I’ve probably struggled the most with #3 — that I don’t deserve to experience full joy. In my case, I’ve often struggled to trust that God even had real joy to offer — I saw so much suffering and loss for a time that I feared abandoning myself to him would just result in more suffering and loss. The whole trusting in the goodness of God thing. And that meant that since it was possible “the right way” I would throw myself into any replacement I would find, no matter how pitiful and incomplete and brief. I have to work really hard at fighting that lie… but that’s what my blog post is about. 🙂
You have an occasional habit of doing this, and I feel I must call it to your attention … you write posts that aren’t just insightful in their own right as a concept, but you truly help to open ones eyes to truths we easily put in the background, but need to be put front and center. This is one such post.
“I thought faith was mainly used to get us through difficulties.
God has been showing me faith is equally needed to accept the grace and gift of joy.”
I read lots of Christian posts with lots of real Christian wisdom, but sometimes you come across a sharing like yours today that is just plain precious.
I’m trying to find that full joy myself. My word for 2011 is leading me to it though. I know God wants me to have it and I’m trusting.
Ooh, misconception # 1 hit me like a lightning bolt!:
“Full Joy feels irresponsible.”
I think I may be stuck in this one…
So I treasure your thoughts here, Bonnie. May God use your and His words to help me KNOW the truth deep in my heart, not just in my head.
Great Post! Over the years God has helped me overcome that first misconception – that dwelling with joy is somehow being irresponsible, or neglecting the reality of other problems. This is one that when you walk in joy, others will throw at you as an accusation. We can get caught up in the defense or give in to pressure, but both of those take our focus off of God and in the process we abandon the joy. Yet the Bible says the Joy of the Lord is our strength, so if we choose to remain in the joy instead, we will actually have more strength to persevere through those other trials. How great is God that He would choose something as pleasurable as joy to give us as a tool for His purposes!
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I especially struggle with #3, as well.
I can’t write a post for the Jam this week for two reasons: I’m on break from blogging because I need time for real-life issues … and I am still looking for the joy in my present circumstances.
I have, however, seen God at work in these circumstances. One evening I was just completely drained–emotionally, physically, spiritually. I prayed (partly to remind myself, but also to pour out my heart to God), “I know You have a purpose for this. I know it will bring You glory, even if I can’t understand how. Thank You for allowing me to be part of Your plan, and thank You for Your promise never to leave me nor forsake me.” I asked for peace and He filled me with peace.
Even in the worst times, there are reasons to be thankful. And maybe that IS the joy.
[…] More Posts on Joy: Read Bonnie Gray’s “Top 3 Misconceptions about Joy.” Share and […]
This post is just awesome, Bonnie!
Good points, all.
I’ve had other people communicate the negative to me — mainly that I had no right to joy and joy was irresponsible. This from Christians. Amazing.
How can the joy of the Lord be my strength if I am not able to access it because of my situation or my past performance? Especially when all we have is of grace? And nothing can separate us from the love of God? It just doesn’t make sense.
This is a really good post, Bonnie.
#3. Bonnie, you always get to the heart of the matter! I’m learning that I don’t have to receive everything that is spoken into my life, especially those things that are negative or being spoken out of someone’s personal issues in order to bring me down to their level. I just have to hold onto Jeremiah 29:11 with every ounce that is within me. Thank you!
Joy is in the waiting. In our society, we tend to want things now and base many of our decisions upon the “now.” We forget the joy and growth in waiting. Waiting on God isn’t a burden, but a joy because in the waiting you see Him work, sometimes quietly in the back like a computer program running in the computer tray, and other times He moves things in your life, unexplainable, wonderful things that make you sit back on your heels and say, ‘wow.’ The joy is in the ‘wow.’
So true! I never really thought about the felt safety around joy! Very good insight!!!
I still remember Deacon Worley. No running in church!
I love this post…
#1 definitely struck a chord with me. I talk about some of that struggle with following God’s plan when it seems irresponsible in the post I linked up. Thanks for always putting so much thought into what you share here, Bonnie. 🙂
I just had a wonderful resurgence of joy this morning, as a friend who poured out her heart to me, reminded me of the importance of sharing with each other, being real and showing our true colours: hurts, celebrations, excitement, grievances and even moments of doubt and fear.
I was reminded again, by the Spirit, of the hope of our calling. The Lover, who has brought me near. I was once far off, but now I am near. Intimately near to the One who knit me together and foreknew me before the foundations of the earth were laid.
I experienced joy in this discourse over emails this morning.
Joy. Community. Joy. Truth. Joy. Stepping into our life in Christ.
The old is GONE, the NEW HAS COME.
Thank you Bonnie for these truths! Especially connected with this one:
“Full Joy Truth #2: The fruit of the Spirit is joy. As long as I value the nearness of God, joy is good. Nothing can separate me from God’s love.”
Well done, Bonnie!
I’m most convinced that joy is sturdy happiness, and seldom emotions based.
Except when longing and joy are connected…that’s CS Lewis’ territory. Good Stuff.
Bonnie, thanks for putting this together. I think my problem is that I either forget about joy or wait for it to come knocking on my door. thanks for another great jam.
Great thoughts! I love how you point out misconceptions and then have God’s truth to go with it! I have done the 3rd misconception more often than I can count. I am not sharing in the jam today, just to much on my plate this week to get anything written. I am looking forward to going and reading everyone in few days when I get some time!
Joy truly is God-centered and it’s permanent too! Much love to you Bonnie. This Jam is uplifting me and filling me with joy in a crazy time…God is amazing!!! (Jeremiah 30:18)
[…] And finding joy with Bonnie. […]
You really hit the nail on the head here, Bonnie. Why are we afraid of joy? Would you believe I have a story very similar to yours? With the visiting relatives laughing and me devastated? Isn’t it amazing how these things shape us?
Thank you for inviting us to share in your joy-story. I am inspired by yours to let Jesus lead me into the fullness also. Thank you for that!
I just want to applaud that ballerina in the nightie and jammie bottoms. And then I want to hug her.
What a wonderful post, Bonnie. Clinging to these truths.
Love you, girl.
As I heard one minister put it, Scripture tells us that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. So if joy is 1/3 of the Kingdom, we had better learn to stir it up and live in it. Great post here, Bonnie. Thank you.
Bonnie, I find this post particularly touching tonight. I have struggled with all of those joy misconceptions and needed to hear that truth. And the story of you dancing with such abandon only to be crushed makes me want to swoop “little you” up into my arms and give you a big hug.
One of the recent perspectives I’ve come to about joy is that I don’t have to feel it at the moment to know that it’s still in my soul as part of the Spirit’s fruit. I can have the fruit of joy in my life simply by imparting it to others from that deep well within me. Like love, sometimes joy is a choice rather than a feeling.
Joy is only temporary, don’t be too joyful because something bad will eventually happen.
It’s only until this last year that I was able to understand joy to the fullest. Meaning that nothing can sway me because my joy from the Lord is so deeply ingrained.
I have this overflowing joy that I love to share with other people, reach out, minister.
I don’t know if this is my ministry or not as a stay home mother, but throughout the week, I will randomly visit friends and drop off gifts with homemade cards.
The amount that I spend it nothing compare to the joy that God’s given to me. I never look at the amount or care for it, because I know God has blessed us so much spiritually, emotionally, and humanly. 🙂
Like you, I have so much I just want to share it with everyone!!! Woohoo! 😀
It’s hard a lot of the time to believe he wants us to be truly free and spin as He made us to be–all stops out. But why else would he have made as we are. Why else would he bless us with gifts if we are not to give them. In giving them we bless Him and others. When we celebrate the gifts of others we are blessed as they are. Only if we are in His love can this truly happen. Otherwise we are just connected to our own ego and the gift has strings attached. Thanks again Bonnie for pointing us in a direction to help us claim who we are in Christ.
Dance. Dance before Him as David danced, not caring what the world might say. I can sense the Father beaming with joy of His own as you release and receive!
Finally got my post up…
Hi — a thought provoking post … sometimes I feel quilty about expressing the fullness of my joy because of the hardships of those around me. I feel somehow like I’m throwing it in their face that they don’t feel the joy I do. I never thought about this quite deeply until this post. I realize this is the enemy trying to “silence” the Holy Spirit in me. Because true joy is a testimony of God’s spirit … and as I feel Him filling more and more – it’s harder to contain. I think I should just be me and not worry about what other’s think – because when it’s of God – it’s of God and a blessing to others!
Thanks for this Bonnie!
Well, if this is not exactly what I needed to read!! The problem I have with fully receiving joy is guilt! I fall prey to all three of these and am quick to fear temptation instead of enjoyment!! And I hope that you have started “dancing” again for HIM! Thank you!
I’m with you on ‘safe’ joy – probably not as good as you are at celebrating on a beige day, but certainly ‘I can’t imagine a better way to spend time with people in everyday life and hearing them share stories of faith.’
But I have yet to truly discover real joy. I’ve gone through hard times and others have seen joy in me, but I didn’t FEEL joyful.
This looks like the beginning of a very serious journey on joy discovery!
[…] filling up the waste basket. I decided to take my Heavenly Daddy’s perspective. He enjoys my creativity. So, I ordered up a creamed coffee with hazelnut and imagined God saying, “Enjoy. This […]