Joy in the Mundane

Joy in the Mundane

I know I’ve been focusing a lot on the topic of joy recently.

You would think that I’d be a joyful person all the time (hello, joy is part of my name!) but honestly, I’m not.

(Perhaps I’m simply rehashing everything I’ve been saying for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes, I just need to write things that teach me, because I’m far from perfect or complete!)

A few days ago, I got into a terrible funk where I was moody and depressed for a few hours. Why? I have no idea why. I wrote in my journal to get out of it, and realized that no part of my writing had anything to do with joy in it.

But wait, we don’t have to be happy all the time, do we?

No. Nowhere does it say that we have to be happy all the time. Why? Because happiness is dependent on circumstances – and circumstances are never 100% perfect.

True to my blog’s name, I’m going to share a journal page snippet with all of you.

“Wow, I just read what I wrote earlier. It sounds so dark and hopeless. But it’s not. If I can’t find joy in the mundane, I’m making my joy circumstantial. A horrible decision, really. Life is really okay. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. My joy should come from Jesus, and not from accomplishments or possessions or circumstances. No, it’s never easy or pain-free. But I will make it through. For this isn’t the end.”

Joy is always possible because hope is always always available.

 

I started to get fed up with my mundane life in which I do practically the same exact thing every single day. I wake up, I do school, I go to karate (or at least practice it), I read and/or watch TV, I write, I go to bed. EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Maybe a little exaggeration there, but I think you get the point.)

I veer toward the side of believing that joy comes from great things that God gives us. Like: opportunities. books. money. friends. freedom.

Joy isn’t happiness. Joy is a life choice and lifestyle. I recently read an amazing blog post about marriage and it talked about making the mundane and ordinary days just as wonderful as the particularly romantic parts. It struck a chord with me, because I often forget that same concept in my daily life.

For me at least, I tend to find “joy” when things go my way, or I’m happy. But that’s not joy.

Joy comes from hope.

Hope is knowing that I’m never alone.

It comes from gratitude.

I am so thankful for my salvation because I am so undeserving of it.

I have joy because I am blessed down to my soul. I am loved and treasured and I belong to my Creator.

This has nothing to do with happiness, because it’s an attitude.

I still have my days where I feel like I’m in darkness, but we all do. It’s absolutely impossible to be always happy.

But we can always put on the attitude of joy. Joy is substantial because its foundation is on hope. This hope isn’t wishful thinking, but assurance.

Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

When life is mundane and difficult, joy is possible because we have assurance that faith in God – the only solid foundation – will never fail us. Our souls are saved and secure. We are loved. We were bought with a high price. We are new creations.

Life is hard. Yeah.

But it isn’t the end, nor should we let it be.

Joy is beautiful. Joy is possible, even when it’s impossible to be happy. Joy is amazing, because no matter what, we can find it because of what Jesus has done for us.

That’s where we find joy.

*aj

Why Joy Satisfies Me (More Than Anything Else)

Why Joy Satisfies Me (More Than Anything Else)

In my very first post, waaaayyyyy back on February 17, 2015, I talked about happiness vs. joy. I was a little baby blogling, testing out my writing voice in a little corner of the blogosphere, and didn’t quite know what I was doing. (It’s not my favorite post.) But I decided that the points in there were still important, regardless of the quality of writing.

I’ve been thinking about names recently. I’m Amanda Joy Beguerie. When I was six, I decided that I was going to change my name to Clara when I turned eighteen (and for the record, Clara just so happens to be the name of my book character twin). In addition, I always thought that Joy was a somewhat boring middle name, because it’s a word name (e.g. Grace, Faith, Patience, etc.).

Two nights ago, in Bible study, we talked about joy. We’re studying the book of Philippians, which is all about rejoicing.

I thought about my middle name and realized something.

My middle name is constant. I’m not Amanda [always changing emotion name], I’m Amanda Joy. Joy doesn’t leave, because joy is constant. I can’t get rid of my middle name, it’s just there. No matter how I feel, or what I do, it doesn’t change.

(This is how I think, okay?)

In Bible study, we talked about rejoicing in the Lord.

Because God doesn’t change, our joy needn’t change. Because things like grace and salvation do not change, we can rejoice in them.

Sure, I’m happy if I get a lot of likes and comments on a blog post. I’m happy if I buy something I really like. I’m happy to get my paycheck. I’m happy when people give me books and Amazon gift cards and clothes and free food. These things make me actually, legitimately happy. I won’t minimize that.

But those things aren’t constant things. They don’t last forever.

However, beautiful things like grace, and salvation, and God’s everlasting love are things that we can constantly rejoice in.

I’ve never struggled with depression, but I have been emotionally depressed from time to time. I think that most of us have, really. In those times, I cannot shake the feeling from myself because what happens is I forget my joy.

It’s easy to let myself become happy because of an earthly thing and then later, let myself be disappointed when that thing doesn’t last.

Joy is something that we will find in God alone. We will find joy in our salvation given us by the grace and love of God.

When we succumb to lies that tell us that our ‘joy’ should come from things, we deceive ourselves. This is where our joy should stem from.

Romans 5:8

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I know, I know. We’ve heard that verse a thousand times. BUT LISTEN TO WHAT IT IS SAYING.

When we had no hope, God provided us with hope. This hope is assurance that no matter what we have done or will ever do, God has forgiven us.

Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

God has done what no one else could do, and He forgave us when we were unforgivable.

We are new in Christ, and our sin is not held against us.

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy isn’t a fleeting emotion. It’s a choice to live in gratitude to the one who saved our souls.

It’s a mindset that will give us constant satisfaction.

*aj

True Peace

Peace, Mountains

Peace.

*takes a deep breath*

Visualize world peace. 

There’s a sign in my dentist’s office that says just that. “Visualize World Peace”.

That sounds good, right?

Well, it seems so…but here’s the thing.

Peace, many times, is mistaken for a lack of conflict.

Therefore, it stands to reason that if there is peace, there is stability. If there is no conflict or apparent danger, there is peace.

According to the Bible, however, that’s not really true.

In John 16:33, Jesus says,

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Here, Jesus is talking to His disciples. And He just dispelled a myth about peace. Jesus says that in Him, we can have peace. Notice that He confirms that in this world, there will be tribulation.  (Think of this as conflict mixed with really hard times and trials. Not exactly pleasant.)

Yet, we still can have peace. Why? Jesus has overcome the world.

But what does that mean?

I’m big on explanations (if you haven’t noticed).

Jesus overcame Satan, the Prince of this world. He overcame sin’s power over us. He restored the peace we can have with God.

Peace is like an apple. (What?)

Imagine that the inside (core) of an apple is like the “inside” of us. If we have internal non-peace (which will rot the inside of us), that will eventually result in the “outside” of us being rotten and non-peaceful. Likewise, our inner peace – coming from a relationship with God – will result in a fresh apple, because no apple rots from the outside in.

That might not have made a lot of sense.

My point is, we have hard times in the world and outer non-peace (insecurity). Because the world as a whole does not have Jesus, the world as a whole does not have true peace.

You cannot do ten thousand hours of meditation and spiritual rituals to achieve inner peace.

You cannot buy enough stuff to achieve happiness or peace.

You cannot cut out all wars in the world to achieve world peace.

There is no magic handbook that you can follow to convert the world to be a conflict-free place (although you’ll get those claims).

The chance of having a “peaceful” world seems really hopeless, right?

However, there is a clause. (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

Inner peace for the Christian is possible through Jesus. This peace is a restored communion with God. An assurance of security and fellowship with Christ. We can rest in Him; He is our safe place.

Paul writes in Colossians 3:15,

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

 

We can let His true and lasting peace rule in our hearts.

The world does not know true peace. Until Jesus comes again, true world peace will be promised by many and fulfilled by none.

But we are secure in Christ, which produces our only real peace.

Isn’t that the only kind of peace we should want?

*aj

What is True Love?

What is True Love?
Where does it come from? Is it Prince Charming sweeping Cinderella off her feet? Is it a romantic moonlit stroll on the beach? Is it chocolate and roses on Valentine’s Day?
 Is it getting the attention and affection that a girl wants? Is it getting the appreciation and respect that a guy wants?
How do we know what love really is?
Let me start out by saying that I want to be loved. Like really and truly loved. (Not that I’m not loved by my family. I *truly* am. But I mean that I want to be loved by someone who has absolutely no obligation to. I think most people seek after this love.)
I want someone to look deep into my eyes and say, “Amanda, you are worthy of love (which is actually what ‘Amanda’ means) and I love you with my whole heart.”
 Deep down, don’t we all want that in one way or another? I know that I do. (Maybe that’s just because I’m a girl. Whatever.) Acceptance. Love. Respect. Affection. Appreciation. We all want it! But – you’ll never find that PERFECT satisfaction in a person.
There is a love that I have found – true love – it goes deeper than any human love. Regardless of my performance, I am reached. Despite my everyday failures, I am pursued. This love died for me and is the only love that can satisfy. What love have I found? The perfect love of God.
We’ll never be truly satisfied until we set our hearts in the love of God. We can even be Christians and not do this! (Bad scenario, by the way.)
Our ultimate love and satisfaction should come from God’s love. I know this might sound cheesy, but I’ve learned to say, “I know how to be content in all circumstances, whether in a relationship or single, because my relationship with God is TRULY ALL I NEED to be satisfied.”
Last year, I sought to be noticed. I don’t think I understood then how useless that would prove to be! This year, I’m focusing on more important things – like loving my Heavenly Father and loving others. Why get into a dating relationship now? I have all that I need to be content…and even more, full of JOY.
Disclaimer: I do NOT know everything about love. And NOT AT ALL am I saying that a serious relationship or marriage is not fulfilling. From all the people I’ve talked to, marriage is truly wonderful (and personally I’m really looking forward to it!) but only God can satisfy our craving for love. Marriage is an expression of God’s love, not the fullness of it. The fullness of God’s love – Jesus’ death on the cross for us and therefore forgiveness, love, and acceptance – is truly satisfying.

Should We Really Choose Happiness?

 

IMG_2743

Who doesn’t love the feeling of being happy? I sure do. But the truth is, nobody is happy all the time. It’s impossible.

I like to think of it like sucking helium out of a balloon. You suck in the helium and your voice sounds awesome for like, a very short amount of time. And then it goes back to normal.
Just like being happy. Except being happy is worse.
Something “amazing” happens and we’re on top of the world, floating on clouds, in a fragile happiness bubble. And then something happens and we’re more depressed than we were before. The bubble pops, gravity does its thing, and we are on the cold hard ground, contemplating the meaning of life all over again. Or something like that.

We can’t maintain happiness, because it is an emotion. And you can’t maintain an emotion for very long. Because being happy is conditional. For example, getting a new item, making good grades, being in a great relationship can make you happy…but once the newness wears off, or the thing you were hoping for doesn’t happen, you’re “unhappy” and this goes on and on for your entire life.

But I’ve got some good news.

You can’t always be happy, but you can have JOY. I’m not just saying this because it’s my middle name. Because we can all have true joy in our lives. How? Well let me tell you.

Where does joy come from? A thriving relationship with the savior of your soul. Honestly, which do you think sounds better?

1) A free ticket to the concert or amusement park of your choice for a day. Super cool, right? I love when I get free tickets!

2) A free ticket to heaven, for eternity, with no lines to wait in, all access to the Creator of the Universe, in pure paradise, better than the Bahamas! As a bonus, you get 24/7 prayer access, love and grace from your savior, forgiveness of sin, and unconditional love.
Whoa. That is seriously wicked awesome! (If you’re not familiar with the word “wicked” being a positive adjective, it means like super-super-super-super-wow-awesome. It’s a New England thing.)

Free concert tickets is really fun. But it can only make you happy. Once the day is over, it’s back to normal.
BUT! Jesus in your life is -truly- fulfilling. No, your problems don’t melt away. But the God of Angel Armies is on our side. No, life won’t be easy and pain-free. But Jesus is right beside us, and he understands. You have to choose joy though, because obviously it won’t come naturally. But remembering the significance of God in our lives sure helps.

If we can understand how much God loves us, enough to give up his one and only perfect son to die for our sins, doesn’t that give us joy? If we realize how great our sinfulness is and how deep the grace of God is, isn’t that fulfilling? God never had to create us; he knew all along we would rebel. And he knew he would send his son to die. But he did anyway. His love is extravagant! He’ll never ever stop loving us.

So think about this: happiness is an emotion. It’s good, but never good enough. Joy is a choice and a realization. It comes from a relationship with your savior. Which will you choose today?

 

*aj