Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why Do You Do That?

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

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  1. Wish I'd had this when I was that young pastor's wife with 3 kids and too many responsibilities because "no one else would do it". I have a feeling I robbed a lot of others of the joy of learning to say "yes" when I just couldn't say "no". Times have changed. I often wish I could say yes again, but for whatever reason God holds me back from re-entering that least, I believe it is God. I hope it isn't just me being selfish. (See? The guilt trip never ends.)
    Thank you for this fresh reminder. I needed it. God understands it. Thank you.

    1. Yes, the guilt trip is a mighty thing, especially for our generation I think. Man uses it to get stuff done, but I doubt that God would consider guilt a good motivator. He is all about grace, not guilt. So thankful for that!

  2. Love this!! I "rebelled" against the system about 3 years ago, or so it felt and like you found things didn't fall apart when I didn't allow myself to be guilted into "volunteering" when I really didn't want to be a part of particular "ministries". Instead, those who were actually gifted stepped up to the plate. I followed my heart to really return to my first Love and moved completely away from the works oriented path I'd been on. In the process I've found joy and my sense of humor returning, much to the relief of my family. And the fact that the world turned just fine without my constantly filling gaps, gave me a huge sense of relief in areas of responsibility that weren't actually mine to take up : )

    1. Exactly!! I love this confirmation. I realize that my post could sound selfish and self-centered but the reality is that we are better people for the ones around us if we are more careful with our time and energy.
      Moving out of the "works" mode is not an easy transition to make, bravo to you! It can sound very noble to suffer for ministry but I doubt God gets pleasure from it.
      Thank you for commenting Lynda.

  3. Being intentional about joy is an a great discipline. Isn't it curious how something that is so positive is so elusive. Goes to show how much renewal of our minds--overhauls--in some cases has to happen! Wondering what you're going to look for in December.

    1. Thanks for commenting Marcia. I loved your book! Yes, our minds do need a renewal regularly, whether we know it or not.

  4. Having a chronic disorder causes me to pause and think about what I can and can't do. It has made me sad to not be a part of some special ministries but most of them seem to have the workers that God wants in them. One of them folded.

    1. When I used to endure chronic headache pain I had to be careful about my commitments because you just cannot plan ahead very much. I am sorry that you have a chronic disorder, that is a difficult way to live.


All comments are good comments!

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