Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where Do You Find Joy?

My husband and I attended the Faculty/Staff Appreciation Dinner at his workplace last Thursday night. It's an annual event that is fairly well attended and we normally sit with his office staff. The same was true this year. We arrived, greeted people, I got screams from people who didn't know I was pregnant, and then we found seats. The food was delicious; the company was funny; and it lasted longer than it was supposed to :)
Part of the evening includes recognizing staff members who have been working at the university for a certain number of years. They even get a check that is proportional to the time they have committed to the university. They also give out three "big" awards that recognize character and outside talents as well as achievement in the winner's specific domain. This part always makes me uncomfortable.

Why? Because I like recognition as much as the next person. And being a wife and mother doesn't come with raises, awards, promotions, accolades, or a list of accomplishments that everyone can ooh and ahh over. No one applauds when I check off my to-do list, although sometimes when I write down everything I've done in one day I feel very accomplished!

But you know what? I'm not supposed to find contentment or joy in being recognized or applauded. I am to have a deeper, more lasting, source of joy.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore. Ps. 16:11
God really didn't intend for us to be miserable. The purpose of life is not the pursuit of happiness but happiness can be found in God's will. I'm always inspired when I think about some missionaries' wives that I know. They live in a foreign country in conditions much less conducive to happiness than most people have and they are some of the most joyful people I know! What makes the difference? Their relationship with God does!

If I am searching for joy in man's applause I will constantly be unhappy if I don't get it and might even wander into sin looking for it. If I find my joy in knowing and serving God, I can have joy anywhere in any situation. I can be in the presence of God all the time. Yes, even while I make breakfast, read stories, clean bedrooms, discipline a toddler, make dinner, take a nap, and find a smile to go with my words. So where do I need to put my efforts? Into my relationship with God. I need to spend time with Him. I need to learn His Word and practice applying it to my life. I need to obey and allow Him to change me. I must choose to make my time with God a priority. I can find satisfaction in knowing that I make God smile.

That will certainly get me farther than constantly bragging on myself to get others to notice how awesome I am. That typically backfires anyway!

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