My Name is Joy

I recently took a silly quiz on Facebook, you know the ones I’m talking about:

-What’s your superhero name?

-What’s your emotional IQ?

Yeah, you know the ones…

Well, I can’t remember what female celebrity I was trying to figure out I was most like, but one of the questions on the quiz made me pause. I even clicked my answer, moved to the next and couldn’t get it out of my mind. You see, when I take quiz’s like that, I try not to “help” predict my answer. I try to go with my initial gut reaction. (i.e. If you could choose between skydiving over the ocean and ziplining through the forest which would you prefer?) I would just immediately click the one that jumped at me first. So, back to “the answer”. The question that I haven’t been able to shake for about a week now was, “If you could have  more of anything in your life, what would it be?” They had about 4 choices: Joy, Harmony, Peace, and Love. Immediately, all I was feeling was JOY. “Joy? Why Joy?” I asked myself. “I’m really happy with my life.” I began to second guess. Without pause, I heard the Lord say, “Happiness and Joy are two different things. They go together as part of a whole, but they are two different things…”

Here I am a week later and what do I have to say today? Well, I’ve not been able to stop mulling over this one truth: Happiness and Joy are two different things. It’s like a seed was planted that day and a week later, I’m realizing how much I have mistaken being happy for having true Joy. Unspeakable Joy! The kind of Joy that becomes part of your identity, just like your name. So what is Joy? Merriam-Webster defines it as “A source or cause for great happiness; a source or cause of delight”. To me what was a little sad, however, was that it was mixed in with things like this : ” the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” First lesson this taught me? You won’t find what true Joy is in Merriam-Websters dictionary.

I began to see that the world has a glimpse of what Joy means. But unfortunately, the world hasn’t fully come to understand true Joy. Hence, definition number two that followed. Well, what does my Heavenly Father have to say about Joy?

We see in Galations 5:22 that the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. We also see in Nehemiah 8:10, “The JOY of the Lord is our strength.” Ok, I began to ask myself, “Why strength?” Why isn’t it ,”The Joy of the Lord is our peace?” Or, “The Joy of the Lord is our Love?”  Because, here is the journey He is taking me on:

Every good and perfect gift comes from him. He doesn’t just HAVE every good and perfect gift, He IS every good and perfect gift. It is His identity and when I stepped into his eternal family and asked him to live inside me….HA there it is! Joy isn’t just happiness but it is the root from which happiness leaves sprout. Joy is part of who I am so much, that even in moments throughout my life where there will be sadness, will be anger, will be struggle, that I have a knowing deep down that happiness still follows me. Where my heart and spirit are always pointed toward what is good. Joy isn’t just happiness. It’s happiness that stays and abides in me. It’s a pattern of living, not a moment I have.

What can Joy do for you?

Well let’s see what true, abiding, deep-seeded Joy does:

-It keeps you from being easily offended.

It’s hard to offend someone who lives from a place of Joy. Why? Because it’s their strength. They let negativity, resentment, and insults roll of them. They could care less. Half of the time I don’t even think they notice insults. Their Joy is so much a part of them that it would take a whole lot more than a negative arrow to strike them down. Let’s be honest, if anyone is affected, it’s the person shooting the arrows. Why? Because Joy is so contagious, for one. It gets on them and pierces them stronger than any arrows flying at them. And because of that, there’s a place where the person spewing negativity is projecting it because deep down, they want to feel the way you feel. They want to know how you can go through the every day and the moments that suck, and still find a reason to sing. Unfortunately, a lot of times, their first choice isn’t to band together with you. It’s pushing against you because of jealousy, fear, resentment, and just plain not understanding. The only thing they understand in that moment is that it hits a nerve. I will be the first to admit that there was a time in my life where super happy and joyful people annoyed the crap out of me. I would find myself cringing everytime someone flashed that chipper grin or someone I never saw have a bad day give or take 20% of the time. Seriously? They are delusional, I would think to myself. And while yes, there are people who hind behind a fake sense of happiness because they are afraid to open up and be real, I am not talking about those people. I am talking about the people who ARE realistic about moments in their life that bring pain, bring anger, bring sadness, aren’t afraid to show it, handle it, make steps to deal with, but that ALWAYS contain JOY! They know, deep down, that sorrow may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning! It’s a pattern of living that strengthens and keeps you ready, willing, and able to deal with whatever comes your way.

-It produces so much fruit

When I looked at the choices–joy, harmony, peace, love–I thought to myself, if I lived from a place of Joy, than harmony, peace, and love has no choice BUT to follow. I can be content in whatever comes (peace), I am able to see myself and others the way God sees them no matter how they act (love), and in turn, I am able to find something good in every situation (harmony).

I can say that today, I am on a journey. From the minute I clicked that one silly quiz, a seed was planted and a tree is beginning to grow for maybe the first time in my life. I find myself more optimistic about things than I ever did, in spite of things around me that AREN’T changing. No longer will I just have “moments” of happiness, but I will have Joy. Unspeakable Joy. A Joy that I can access anytime through the Father because He is inside me! A Joy that will never run dry but will water the dry places in my life, even when I can’t feel or see it. a Joy that is just as much a part of me as my own name!

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart TO STAY!”

 

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My Real. Raw. Moment.

📢WARNING: Real. Raw. Moment ahead!
I’m learning so much about being a new mom, especially when it comes to my body. I am someone who thrives on the “next level”. I’m strong. I push myself to be stronger. I compete with myself and believe you can do anything you set your mind to and I believe in consistency. Pre-baby I had to learn (not without a few “learn it the hard way” scenarios) that rest was a good and healthy thing. That my body couldn’t run on level 10 24/7 without eventual injury or plateau. When I got pregnant, I had to learn a new version of myself–being pregnant. Ha I had to learn to modify. Taking all the tools I learned pre baby and through pregnancy allowed me to stay strong: push your limits, rest, listen to your body. And I believe that’s why I was able to run strong up to my 37th week and continue strength training, cardio, and yoga up to the day I delivered; also why my body bounced back within days of having my son. HOWEVER………!

I’m am now learning my NEW body. My post baby body. Your body really goes through a phenomenon when you have a baby. If you step back for a minute and really realize what happens, it truly is a miracle the way we were designed and what God created our body to withstand without breaking and the inevitable feeling in the moment of, “This might kill me!” Truly, we were created miraculously! The thing is, your body changes whether you get back in pre-pregnancy clothes or you don’t (hips didn’t get the memo that they could stop spreading and go back now). Here’s my real raw moment: I sometimes struggle with the fundamentals. You know the basics. In my head, I know they are super important and I would never recommend skipping them. But, they piss me off sometimes. Especially when you’re someone that knows you’re strong and is confident and gets a high off of pushing yourself. I can honestly say I’m proud of myself because I know I’m not just one of the “blessed” ones. A deeper confidence comes with knowing that your body responded and bounced back immensely because of the hard work YOU put into it. My core stayed very strong through pregnancy and after, which attributed to the downfall I’m about to tell you about. Because of that fact, I am having to learn that no matter how well I feel or how much I am able to do endurance and strength wise–I STILL HAD A BABY! I need to learn this new body, embrace it, love it, and do the damn fundamentals. The fundamentals are like the gym instructor you cuss out and call a nazi, but the next day you look at your abs and immediately want to kiss the ground she walks on. They make you stronger! Sunday I worked out with my sister and didn’t do anything crazy. Just ran for about 20 minutes and did a 30 min core/strength class. However, I must have strained just enough that my post baby body (you know the one I’m learning?) got hurt. Slightly. In an area I would rather not share. Nothing major. Nothing requiring a physician but definitely requiring rest. I didn’t notice, however, until later that evening and it wasn’t enough to where I thought I should “take a day off”. Really, I’m not stupid friends. Remember, I’ve grown? If I thought it warranted rest, I would’ve rested. But, I felt great in the morning so I chalked it up to just sore muscle and went for run with the baby on Monday. Sad to say, it for sure, now warranted rest. My husband grounded me for a day from working out and after researching my “dilemma” realized I will need to take it easy and let it heal. So looks like walking and yoga for a couple days. This is where I say over and over through slightly gritted teeth, “Rest is good. Rest is good.”

My point in this story is that I am learning so much about this part of my life. How to be a new mom, how to learn my baby, how be a wife AND mom, and I’m learning my new body. It really is a new body. It will never be what it was before. That doesn’t mean it can’t be just as good, if not better, but it does need to be loved, appreciated, cared for and it deserves the best. Today I’m embracing the word “Heal.” I’m embracing my new body. I’m embracing change. I’m embracing growth and maturity. I’m embracing being teachable and learning something valuable everyday.

Let yourself grow. It’s hard at times. But it’s so worth it. Why? Because you growing up is good-duh! But really, it means that you have the ability to lead. And not only are you a leader but you can now lead because you’ve been shown trustworthy to be an apprentice. You were, and will remain, teachable in every circumstance. You can follow, you are faithful, you are loyal, and most importantly- you are vulnerable. You made mistakes and learned from them. Don’t try to be perfect because you aren’t. Sorry! ***REALITY CHECK*** Trying to be perfect doesn’t make you that way. It makes you fake. And not only is fake gross to others, worst of all, it brings shame; shame because when you inevitably screw up, you turn to self-hatred. That’s not the way any of us are destined to go. No! We are destined for greatness and confidence and to know our worth!
So whether you turned a blind eye when you knew you shouldn’t, or like me in this situation, you didn’t know but are still just learning and learning to be ok with it- go ahead and let go. Let yourself heal. Let yourself be yourself and no one else!

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