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The Pursuit of Joy

I think it’s fair to say that many women associate freedom with joy.  One of the things I hear the most from women is that they want their joy back.  I know it’s one of the things I know I lost when I fell to pornography.  I had the joy that comes with carefree innocence, and it was soon smothered by lies and darkness.  So, it makes sense that we view joy as an indicator of freedom.

Sometimes, though, I feel like we come at this the wrong way.  We look at joy as an end-all, something to be achieved  as in once we can figure out how to be joyful, we will know how to be free.  We can act as if joy is what frees us from lust.  It’s the other way around, though, lust is what robs us of joy.  When I choose not to lust, I am choosing joy.

The other day, I was on my way in to work when the radio DJ read a quote from Dr. Seuss.  It said,

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Leave it to Dr. Seuss to inspire, but it dawned on me in that moment, that lust is exactly that.  I choose to lust because I have determined my dreams are better than reality.

This forces me to come face to face with this question:  Who crafted my reality?  God.  Who exists in my reality?  God.

Who crafted my dreams?  Me.  Who exists in my dreams?  No one.

So, when I choose to lust, I am willfully choosing to remove myself from a life under God’s rule and reign and instead invest myself in a world that does not exist.  Is it any wonder I would then, in turn, be frustrated and discontent with real life?  My joy is killed off by my lust.

I will wake up and life is good.  Then, for whatever reason, my brain wanders and I start to imagine what life could be like.  Whenever I make my way back to reality, what was once good is now far less than adequate.  The world I cooked up in my head is much more exciting and I would like to be there.  So, then, I get discouraged, frustrated, and discontent.  It’s the perfect trifecta for falling headlong into trouble.

Did I fall because I didn’t have joy? No.  I fell because I ignored my joy.  I killed it off by believing that my dreams were far better than reality.

Here’s what is most interesting to me, though.  You know the dream that many women cook up that in turn frustrates them?

They imagine themselves free and full of joy.

We get joy and happiness confused.  I might have every reason to be joyful– I have been freed from a life of sin and have a Saviour who loves me unconditionally.  There is great joy in that.  That doesn’t always mean life is a bed of roses.

What some women do is wake up to hard times.  Maybe you’re still single when you thought you would be married.  Maybe you’re struggling with school.  Perhaps you’ve just been burned by someone you trusted.  Maybe you’ve been abused.  There are real pains that are no reason to be happy.

So, what do we do?  Well, usually we fall.  Our misery and bitterness drags us down into a sinkhole of sin.  We wallow in it a bit and then think that we cannot have joy because of what is going on, and since we can’t have joy we can’t have freedom.

Joy is not dependent on our circumstances, it is a fruit of the Spirit.  If you have the Spirit, you can have joy, but you have to choose to walk in the Spirit.  That’s the key.  That’s the key to freedom.

Joy is not our answer.  Walking in the Spirit is our answer. When we choose to do that– when we choose to walk in His light, His truth, and in the world He created, we are not choosing sin.  We are choosing freedom.

We are choosing joy.

 

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-21a; 22-25 {ESV- emphasis mine}