|What feeling do you see here? Did this photo|
affect your face?
That little monkey (Writer Son, about 25 years ago) in the above photo is experiencing an emotion that I believe could be used as a kind of measuring tool for the way we spend our time. God loves pleasure, He invented it and I believe that He takes pleasure in our pleasure.
You probably smiled when you saw this funny picture of JOY. His happiness and joy gave you a tiny burst of the same emotion and experience. God must get the same big grin when He sees His children doing things that give them pleasure and deep joy.
I propose that we use the JOY test as a tool for simplifying our lives. Women tend to take on more jobs, projects, committees and volunteer activities than men. We do not like to say "No" and we are often "need" driven when it comes to the extra tasks we agree to do. It is nearly impossible to turn down the plea...."If you don't do it, no one will."
Before you know it, you are involved up to your ears in more causes and projects than you can handle and stress enters the picture. This happens subtly and automatically in church circles, school volunteerism and kids sports groups. The kitchen calendar is crowded with activities and you find yourself running to keep up with the schedule.
When my boys were little I caught myself feeling overwhelmed, stressed and grumpy too often. I could not understand what I was doing wrong because all of the activities were good and unselfish. Nursery duty at church, kids club for the neighborhood, women's bible studies, teaching classes at church, Young Married meetings in our home, helping with women's monthly luncheons, not to mention various church committees. Add into the mix, driving the boys to school and helping at their school once a week.
Something had to go. But what?
I began by asking myself why I was doing what I did.
Did I accept jobs out of guilt, persuasion or a need to look good to others?
OK, that question helped me cross out a few of the committees I was on.
Next I asked which responsibilities gave me JOY.
Were there some jobs that I looked forward to and others that I dreaded?
I crossed off the dreaded jobs that were not being done joyfully. Yes, I had to face people who were disappointed when I stepped out of a committee, but I had to be strong and WOW, it felt so GOOD after I was released.
The JOY test will help you weed out the busy work that you may be doing out of obligation because, "no one else will do it." Consider this idea: Maybe no one else will do it because it really does not need to be done. If no one else will work in the church nursery, maybe the mamas will have to keep the babies with them during church. If no one wants to lead the youth group, do you really want a grumpy reluctant leader anyway? You want someone who is JOYFUL about the challenge. Wait for him or her, don't step in out of obligation and rob that person who is designed for the job. (Some Church Department Heads will hate this idea. I know I've been one.)
Joy is not surface level happiness. Joy is a deep under-layer that fuels you even when circumstances are difficult. The JOY test will help you simplify your life and give you added energy to do what makes you happy with all of your focus and creativity. (These thoughts are regarding the extra, volunteer tasks we take on. Your paid job may not give you joy, but maybe you can find little parts of it that bring you joy. Most of us have to work at jobs for necessity, not for fun or joy, so of course they can not be "crossed off".)
I found that the church (my circle. Yours may be local school or sports clubs) did not fall apart when I stepped away from some of my tasks. I had been carrying more than I was supposed to and the JOY test helped me sort it out. It also helped me prioritize what was important to me in that season. I was then able to give of myself joyfully and with pleasure. No more guilt, no more dread.
I believe that God takes great pleasure in our pleasures. He delights in our delights. He invented and designed JOY, didn't He? I am picturing Him creating the world one beautiful and imaginative design at a time and getting great pleasure out of the process. He smiled and said, "It is good!"
If you feel stressed and tired all the time, I prescribe using the JOY test to help you get back to what makes you happy and fulfilled. Your family and friends will thank you. :)
|31 Days of Finding Joy|