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

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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

Fighting Selfishness

Distant Mountains

Life is beautiful…

…most of the time.

Anybody feel me?

My life gets so messy sometimes, and it’s sickening how self-absorbed everyone in this world is.

And, you know, how selfish people can be by nature. Myself included. I’m trying my best to work on that.

There’s this song in The Lorax (the newer movie) that is perfect and sick at the same time when it comes to the human sin nature.

Here’s the first part of it.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just following my destiny.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally.

How ba-a-a-ad can I be? How bad can I possibly be?

Well there’s a principle of nature (principle of nature)

That almost every creature knows.

Called survival of the fittest (survival of the fittest)

And check it this is how it goes.

The animal that eats gotta scratch and fight and claw and bite and punch.

And the animal that doesn’t, well the animal that doesn’t winds up someone else’s lu-lu-lu-lu-lunch (munch, munch, munch, munch, munch)

I’m just sayin’.

 

*sputters*

Even though this movie does not support that point of view, it makes me want to get up and scream, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

Because whether it seems like it or not, the world acts like this by nature.

“Survival of the fittest” is an excuse to go first, take the “bigger piece,” and all that.

It’s just a dumb excuse to feed into entitlement. The deadliest form of selfishness, and I’m pretty sure we all fight it.

Because it’s no secret or surprise that we all have a raging sin nature inside of us, wanting to control us. I mean seriously, if we were “all set,” then Jesus would not have had to come and die for us.

So, do you want to know how to beat selfishness?

Me too, so let’s look at the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 2:3-11

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So…what do these mean, though? And how do they apply to us?

Glad y’asked.

The most IMPORTANT thing that we could possibly do is die to ourselves.

Just because we’re “saved” doesn’t mean we’re growing. It’s an ongoing process of dying to self and living for Christ.

For me, this means giving up my personal wishes. For example, maybe I’m tired, but I still need to serve my family. It’s constantly putting my selfish wishes to go take a nap or read a book behind me and saying, “It’s not all about me. It’s about living for God.”

And honestly, that is soooo much more rewarding than vegging out on the couch being unproductive. Knowing that I’m serving my Creator makes me happier than I would be if I were just binge-watching Netflix and letting my family pull my weight.

Another thing is that we consider others better than ourselves.

Can you imagine if we all did this? If we all treated each other with love, kindness, and respect? Those things are contagious, you know, and it’s so amazing to serve others. It brings me such joy, even when I don’t “feel” like being selfless. My attitude changes if I let it.

And lastly, living like the world isn’t worth it.

It’s really not worth it to live a life rooted in sin and selfishness. Because when we follow after God and do not conform to the world, we are transformed, we see the will of God, and we grow to be more like Him.

In the grand scheme of time and space in all eternity, it’s important to cultivate the things that’ll last: our souls.

Because life can be beautiful, if we let it be.

We can let the world be brighter by being selfless and living for God joyfully, or we can dwell on the shallow things that make us self-absorbed and lead us to be ungrateful vegetables.

Take your pick.

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 4

  

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope that you had a wonderful Easter Sunday. Now, I have one last post in my Resurrection series and I like having one last thing to hold onto from the Holy Day. 🙂  So, without further ado, here is post #4 in this Easter series. Thank you for reading!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that most people want to die. I mean, usually, to die means to suffer. And if you’re not sure of where you’re going, dying isn’t exactly something that you look forward to. Am I right?

We celebrated Easter a few days ago. If you haven’t noticed it already, Easter is my favorite holiday. Why? No, it’s not because of the candy, or because I get to see my family and friends (although that’s fun too). It’s because I get to rest in the assurance of my salvation, that sin has no power over me. I am not punished for what I’ve done. What I deserve — Hell — is not given to me, because I have placed my faith in Christ alone to save me.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

I love these verses because — like I said — we have victory over sin and death. But let me back up.

Verses 50-53 talks about the Blessed Hope.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

To simplify, we (believers) have hope. H. O. P. E. Some of us may never experience death, but be taken to heaven in the ‘twinkling of an eye’. We will be changed! We will be given immortal bodies!

I know that earlier I said that we don’t need to worry about dying if we know where we’re going. But this is even better. Not only do we have the assurance of Heaven, but some of us won’t even die at all. Woah. I find that extremely awesome!

Okay, now for my favorite part. 15:54-58.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality (AKA when we are given new bodies and we become live-foreverable) this saying will be able to be quoted in the present tense.

Christ has defeated death. Death is conquered by victory, the victory that came by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are victorious over death — we are not owned by the devil and sin that drags us to Hell — we are SAVED.

Sin and death have no power over us! NO POWER!

And for the last verse, we are to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.

We are not working for others, we are working for God. Our work is never wasted in God’s kingdom. We live to give glory to God, and that is never in vain.

I know that Easter has passed. I know that today is not Easter Sunday. But the truths we celebrate are the same all year round.

We have been saved. Sin and death have no power over me any longer, because Jesus has done the amazing thing — conquered death.

Easter is about the amazing love of God. It’s about the joy that it brings. It’s about the hope that we’ve been given. It’s about the peace that now rules our hearts. It’s about how we didn’t deserve what was given to us, which is what makes the resurrection so beautiful. Salvation is a wonderful thing because we fully deserve to be punished for our sin. It’s about this amazing grace bestowed upon us.

God is not out to get us. He is out to save us.

And this is why I love the resurrection so much.

Mankind rejected Him, but even still He came.

To conquer death, sin, and the grave,

though not deserved, He took my blame.

Isaiah 53:5-6 pretty much sums it all up.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

    and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.”

*aj

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