Remember this? “Make a good choice, my friend!”
It rings in our ears, makes us smile, and sometimes even makes us roll our eyes. This phrase became a joke in our family, even though it was no joke to the teacher who repeated this phrase over and over again in elementary school.
But, you know, she was right.
The choices you make today will affect how well you live later on.
Today I want to talk to you about a choice you can make right now that will affect your relationships both today and in the future. This choice will help guide the way you live both now and tomorrow and it will affect every relationship you have.
Yes, this might sound like a cliché, but I tell you as one who did not make this choice for many years: choosing joy brings life to you and to those around you. A deep, abiding joy will serve you well in life—I encourage you to find it.
First, though, I want to warn you about three joy-suckers that will kill your soul. Watch out for them. Flee any temptation to give in to them. Your life will not be rich and full if you allow these joy-suckers into it.
What are they? Comparison. Criticism. Contempt.
Comparison. This one sucks the joy out of you because it makes you feel less-than. When we look around at what others have or what others have achieved, thinking that we should have the same or better, we assume God has slighted us, dealt us a bad hand.
This is a lie because the Bible tells us that we are His beloved and that He watches over our coming and our going. God also asks us to trust Him to lead us. Why should we want what others have when God has our own best interest at heart?
Criticism. This one sucks the joy out of those around us, hurting our own hearts in the process. It’s a subtle form of comparison that, rather than making us feel less-than, makes us feel superior to others.
This is a lie, too, because the Bible says that no one is perfect, that all have sinned. When we criticize, we act as judge—a job we have not been given.
Contempt. Contempt can be a two-pronged problem because we can view either ourselves or others in this way. Contempt says that God made a mistake when He made us or those around us.
What a lie! God says that His creation was “good” and that His people are His delight.
So how do we find joy?
Joy comes, I think, when, rather than compare ourselves to others, we join with others, seeing the good in them, seeing potential for a bigger life and a greater adventure.
Joy comes when, instead of criticizing, we choose to build someone up in love.
Joy comes when, instead of treating someone with contempt, we choose to treat them with kindness and that kindness is returned.
Joy comes when, rather than sneering with contempt at what God has made, we choose to rejoice in His blessings. Even something as simple as the weather (which I do tend to complain about sometimes) can be a good indication of where we are with God. Are we saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”? Or are we grumbling and complaining, when all that really does is tell God that we think he could do better?
My dear girls, today I encourage you to choose the path of joy because this is a path that leads to contentment and peace. Trust me, your life will be richer and the lives of those around you will be blessed if you choose joy over comparison, criticism, or contempt.
I love you,
P.S. I have more to say about joy, but I’ll share it later this week.