Find Joy…always :: T-shirt meaning explained…
So…I had a thought today. I owe you all an explanation. I have labeled my blog/website Find Joy Always. I have a tattoo on my foot of the word “joy” with a circle and an arrow around it(shown below), which means find joy. And, I’m asking you all to get on board and buy a “find joy” t-shirt for our adoption fundraiser. (Those can be found here by the way.) Ultimately…I think it’s a super important phrase and one I need constant reminding of.
You see, joy, to me, is not this happy feeling you get when you win a race, accomplish a goal, become engaged, or even watch your children playing together well… Don’t get me wrong, those are all wonderful things. They should be celebrated and fought for…hard. I believe those things bring happiness. Something slightly euphoric and so enjoyable, that we are often looking for that next moment when we can feel the “high” of elation. Again, all good and fun and great to seek for (in the right context)…but it’s not lasting. In fact, it’s fleeting.
Joy is much different. Much more unique. Joy is something that becomes so rooted in who you are that when others are around you, they can’t help but feel it. It’s not optimism…although, it is often portrayed in the ever optimist. For those who know me, you know that my faith is a fundamental part of who I am. God is my rock and my foundation. Without Him, I am a shaky mess… A few years ago in college I was doing my morning devotions when I ran across this quote by Charles Swindoll:
“Joy is a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God—that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening, and will happen. Either we fix our minds on that and determine to laugh again, or we wail and whine our way through life, complaining that we never got a fair shake. We are the ones who consciously determine which way we shall go.”
So there you have it. The beginning underlined portion of that quote is my daily thought process. When I’m up against something I don’t understand…that’s what I cling to. My confidence that God’s got this…HE is in FULL control. Of this, I am 100% confident. But the second part of the quote gets me every time I read it… I don’t know about you…but I have a HUGE desire to NOT wail and whine away my life…but it’s up to me. Am I going to own my joy; or, will I let the worries of this world and the moments when I feel justified in my complaining take control of my identity. I pray not! If that’s not a slap in the face to find joy, then I don’t know what is.
Years ago, I wrote this in a blog post… I still find it super applicable.
I realized I need to clarify something. Happiness vs. Joy. When I speak of happiness, I talk about the day to day feeling that brings a smile to your face and a skip to your step. Joy is the underlying current that flows through your soul. It is a constant state of knowing that God’s got this…even in the midst of pain and heartache. You can lose everything you hold dear, and still have joy. Happiness? Probably not. But joy, true joy, is something designed to withstand the toughest of storms life can weather.
Chuck Swindoll used the word CONFIDENCE…I love that. What does confidence mean? Faith. Trust. Hope. Security. Love. Assurance. Strength. Rest. Safety…the list goes on and on. For me, this is the goal: find all those things in my Lord, my God, my Savior, and I have found joy. Finding joy is an incredible journey of stripping down each layer of yourself to place complete and full CONFIDENCE in God.
What does our ADOPTION have to do with this? Years ago, my joy was tested…I wanted to be a mother so badly. My husband and I had fought through 1.5 years of infertility and then another 6+ months of figuring out the correct amount of climid to put into my body. We first became pregnant in August 2013 and I was so excited. Our baby was due 4.4.14…I thought that was the perfect date. 5 weeks later we were in the Dr’s office processing the lack of heartbeat on the ultrasound screen…our baby was gone. We went through 2 other losses after that first. One at 5 weeks and one at 12 weeks. I was lost, confused, and I felt very alone. I was walking in the deep oceans of misunderstanding and my trust in God was without boarders…we had never been here. I didn’t know what trusting looked like in this. I just didn’t get it. I remember being beside my bed on the floor crying and asking God to help me understand how to trust Him in this. In that moment, the quote above was brought to mind…Joy stems from CONFIDENCE in God. No, I may not know what trusting Him looked like in that moment…but I was confident of His involvement, His care, and His full control of all that was happening in our lives. (I’ll write more about that time and some of the revelations I had in those weeks of mourning our 3rd lost baby)
This brings us to our adoption. In those months after loosing that 3rd child in the womb, the Lord placed a deep desire on our hearts to adopt…but we also felt Him saying, “But wait, not yet.” I had always wanted to adopt, but I didn’t know if it would ever be something my future husband would want. During our time of struggling, Drew was the first one to bring it up as an option, not me.
Drew and I have always envisioned having a girl. Our daughter was named by each of us, separately, during our college years. Drew, 8 years older than I, came up with her name during his time at Western Michigan and it just stuck. I followed 8 years later and came up with the same exact first and middle name during my time in Indiana at Taylor University. Our daughter’s story started long before we met…we can’t wait to see what God does to write her story further. Oh sweet daughter of ours, “Of this I am confident, He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to see it to completion. ~Philippians 1:6″
What about you? What does joy mean to you? When you see the words “find joy” what comes to mind? What is the underlying current of your being that allows you to feel the steady pulse of joy surging through every fiber of who you are? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to head over and snag yourself a “find joy” shirt! 😉 Thanks!