Are you wanting to get more out of life? Here are four ways to find joy in your journey:
1. Avoid Comparison.
I spent many years trying on the “hats” of others before I learned how to be myself. It’s a habit that will sneak in when we least expect it.
God has a unique role for you, and He has created you with just the right ingredients. Comparing ourselves with others usually leaves us either prideful or defeated–definitely joyless. Thank God daily for who you are! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful” Psalm 139:15 NIV.
2. Abort Negative Thoughts.
Someone has said, “Whatever you think, you say. Whatever you believe, you do.” Negative thoughts, like most temptations, don’t poison our minds unless we pack them in our suitcase. And that’s not a fun trip! Our thoughts have a powerful effect on our beliefs and actions once they find a home in our hearts.
When selfish, angry, or self-defeating thoughts try to hitch a ride, tell them, “No, thanks!” Then purposefully turn your “cant’s” into “cans” and focus on some of God’s encouraging words, like Philippians 4:8 (NIV): “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is –if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (You can also find a helpful list of “Twenty Cans of Success” in Neil T. Anderson’s book, Victory Over the Darkness).
3. Abandon Unnecessary Questions.
On more than one occasion, I have dubbed myself, “The Question Queen.” But only as an adult. Some may label it as being “cautious,” or “thorough.” But as a shy teenager in school I rarely lifted a hand to ask questions. Sometimes my current, enthusiastic quest to make up for the past and learn new things can cause misunderstanding.
But God has also taught me through the years that some questions–at least to Him– are simply unnecessary. Instead, God wants me to acquire what I call the “Abraham syndrome”: following God without having all the answers (Genesis 12:1).
What writer hasn’t asked these questions, if only silently? “God, I wrote a novel just like that. Why did hers land on the bestseller list and mine didn’t?” Or if God hands you an undeserved blessing, you may wonder the opposite: “I’m so ordinary. Why me, God, and not someone else?”
When others have voiced similar questions, one of my first thoughts is that God knows what we can handle, either in successes or failures. Perhaps one of the reasons He withholds an action at times is actually His protection of our future. His ways are always best!
The bold apostle Peter vocalized his unnecessary question to Jesus one day. Jesus gave Peter a peek into the future about Peter’s death. Peter then pointed to John and asked Jesus, “What about him?”
Jesus answered in summary, “None of your business, Peter.” What He actually said was, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (See John 21:18-23).
As things happen to us that we don’t understand, our questions to God can be endless. He doesn’t always chide us for asking. But some things are best left unquestioned.
4. Applaud Each Day’s Successes (especially those of others).
You wrote five words or five chapters. Give yourself a hand! You walked one block or one mile. Good for you! You lost one pound or ten. You made a new friend or called an old one. Yeah!
Look for ways to contribute to the success of others. Celebrate something or someone each day, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Life is filled with small blessings that add up to a joyful journey. Don’t miss a single one. Write them down in your “Joy Journal” or a “Blessing Catcher,” so you won’t forget.
Most of all, thank God daily for the journey you are on, and for the strength He gives you to make it. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV).
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord, teach us not only to number our days, but to count our joys along the journey. You hold the meaning of life. You are the One who fills us with joy, meaning, and purpose. Today, we celebrate the joy of knowing You!