Ah, summer is my absolute favorite time of the year. The sun comes up earlier and goes down later. The days are longer and more leisurely.
However, for many, summer means…
Finding solutions for kids who are not at school while parents work…
Trying to stay cool in blistering heat…
Wrestling with needing a vacation but lacking the funds…
Figuring out relationships that have gone awry…
Jesus wants us to live a joy-filled life. He told the disciples that if they remained in His love and if they loved one another, their joy would be full (John 15:9, 11-12). The Apostle Paul also wrote about us living a life of joy. While in prison, he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). However, when facing challenging circumstances, how is this possible?
Some people seem naturally positive while others show up as melancholic. For some, life presents endless possibilities, and for others, life presents endless challenges.
What’s the secret? Is it simply a matter of personality? How do we embrace the joy-filled life Christ intended while being true to our natural personality type?
As I’ve mulled this over, I’ve created a recipe for what I think cultivates joy.
Recipe to Find Joy
2 Cups of a Vibrant Relationship with Christ. In order to live a life of joy, you need a vibrant relationship with Christ. I have discovered that those who experience Christ’s presence daily live much happier lives filled with joy. Rather than being tossed about by every negative emotion, they have hearts that are steadfast because they know that Christ’s love is closer than their own breath. They enjoy talking with Jesus throughout their day. They enjoy spending time in His word and meditating on His promises. They trust His goodness and rest in His faithfulness.
1 and 3/4 Cups Filled with Strong and Secure Friendships. Those who live a life filled with joy have strong friendships. They know who they can count on for prayer even in the middle of the night. The people who are the most joy-filled are not too busy for friendships. Instead, they take time to invest deeply in their relationships because those relationships are precious to them. When life feels hard, they lean into their community of friends and there they find the support they need.
3/4 Cup of a Sense of Humor. Even Jesus had a strong sense of humor. If you read his parables, you discover that many of these were funny, especially in light of the culture of the day. For example, the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). Did you know that it was illegal to even plant a mustard seed in your yard in ancient Palestine? The mustard seed grew like crazy and was an absolute mess. This is why it was illegal. When Jesus compares His kingdom to a mustard seed, He is using humor to illustrate his point. A good rule of thumb if you want to find joy, is to find something funny in every day. Life is too short not to laugh. So go ahead and find the funny.
2 Cups of Savoring Life’s Simple Moments. This past week one of my 7-year-old grandsons was cuddled up with me on the couch. We were watching some soccer videos. As he snuggled in tight and we talked about some of his fears, I prayed, “Lord, let me savor this moment. Let me not forget how wonderful it is.” Life is filled with those small moments to be savored. Maybe it’s snuggling with a child. Or gazing at the beauty out your window. Maybe it’s a hike in the forest or a walk on the beach. Savor the small moments of life if you want to live a life of joy.
1 Teaspoon of Risk Taking. Sometimes, you just have to throw caution to the wind and take a risk. Otherwise, at the end of your life, you will have regrets about things you wish you had been brave enough to do. For example, if you’ve always wanted to go to Israel, go! If you’ve dreamed of making a difference by going on a mission trip, go! If you’ve been debating about investing in a relationship with the neighbor who is driving you crazy, invest! Love them like a good neighbor. Paul wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6b). So, go ahead; take a risk, and reach out in love. I guarantee you’ll experience more joy.
Friend, be assured, Jesus wants you to live a joy-filled life. So take a shot at my recipe and see if you don’t experience more joy along the way.
For more on living a joy-filled life, gather some friends and dive into Rooted Joy this summer. This short study is designed to help you connect more deeply with your friends.
This summer on The Connected Mom Podcast we will be re-airing our top ten episodes. We’ll be starting with Lucinda Seacrest McDowell. Since her podcast with us, Lucinda has gone home to be with Jesus. You will not want to miss the secrets she shared to living a soul-strong life.