Have you ever noticed that some Christians seem to be unhappy about everything?
Whatever the circumstances, they are miserable.
They are constantly angry, upset, annoyed. It’s like they have a never-ending case of PMS.
Like a sulky teenage girl, they are always too cool for school. Even though they may have many things that others can only dream of having, they don’t seem to enjoy any of them. Everything is a hassle…too much bother.
Others want to play the victim in every situation. No matter the circumstances, they are the Debbie Downer that tries to drag everyone down with them. Consistently angry, they love to share their misery and try to drag you into it.
Whenever I run into people like this, I have to admit that my first thought is always, “Dear God, please don’t let me be that way.”
It’s a choice I made years ago, primarily because I had someone in my life who always acted this way. Every holiday, every celebration, whether the situation was good or bad, they were miserable. And they loved to share their lack of joy.
As I entered adulthood and realized that my life would not follow my carefully sketched-out plan, I realized I had a choice. I could choose to whine about everything, or I could choose to enjoy the life God gave me. I could focus on the negative or extract every piece of joy I could from every situation in life.
I determined in my heart I would choose joy. I don’t regret it.
What I’ve learned is that when you choose to enjoy each moment, you actually start to feel joyful.
Over the years, I’ve learned you can choose your attitude about so many things.
You can unhappily focus on all the things you don’t have, or you can choose to enjoy the things you do.
You can dread a big job or project, or you can find a way to make it fun.
Even in the most challenging times, laughter really is the best medicine.
You can choose to focus on the negative, the nasty, the drama, and the angry mob, or you can turn on the radio and sing along.
Admittedly, it’s a choice that has to be made over and over again.
Just recently, I once again found myself at a crossroads. Because of truly difficult circumstances, I was tempted to fall into the trap of wallowing in misery. I was truly unhappy with a direction God chose, and I was sliding into the depths of despair.
Then I eavesdropped on some of my conversations (you know you can do that) and heard someone I didn’t like on the other end. I was complaining too much. I was feeling too sorry for myself. Focusing on the negative rather than choosing joy, I didn’t even like myself.
It was time to make a change, so I did.
I purposely chose to change my attitude.
I forced myself to have some fun. (Sometimes, you have to do this.)
The more I changed my attitude, the easier it became to fall back into the habit of being joyful.
That’s the thing about joy—it doesn’t happen automatically.
You have to choose to put it on like a piece of clothing. You have to want it.
If you wait until every circumstance is perfect, every relationship is mended, your bank account is full, you have everything you want, everything is going your way, and nothing in your body or heart hurts, you’re always going to be miserable.
You find joy when you choose that no matter the circumstances, I’m going to get the most out of it, enjoy it, and have fun.
That’s why you’ll often see Jamie and me celebrating the little things. We dress up for everything: Christmas, 4th of July, even Election Day. We create silly traditions like sitting on the back porch listening to music. We have contests and play games like “who can do it best” when working on projects. We choose to laugh at our silliness and openly share our failures so others can have a good laugh.
It’s our way of choosing joy so that we can be joy-filled people who can fulfill their calling of being a light in a dark world. Because news flash: no one will be drawn to Jesus by a miserable, always angry Christian. Why would they want to be constantly unhappy too?
But joy is contagious. It draws people in. It makes them ask, “how can I be like her?” And gives you the opportunity to share Jesus.
That’s the most important reason to choose joy.
Plus, you’re obeying the Bible, which is a good thing.
So my encouragement today--choose to obey the Bible and choose joy!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.