Losing Joy

I'm going to be honest with y'all, I've been walking through a season in my life that has been sad. It has felt as if the joy has been drained out of my life. I can't narrow it down to one specific reason but rather lots of little reasons combined...losing a friend, loneliness, finances, missing my Grandma, body image issues, etc. 
I've had days when tears flowed easily and I've felt like throwing my hands in the air and just being done. I've had days where I just don't even feel like talking about it. Okay, I've had lots of those days. And days where I wish I could hang the "unhappy" in my closet and pick out "joy" to put on. Don't we all wish it was that easy?

I've felt myself becoming withdrawn, building walls around myself and just wanting to stay inside my safe little home. That's when I knew something had to change. When I knew I had to change.
I have decided to have joy.  To actively pursue it.  To fight and battle for it.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do y'all remember my word for the year?  Prayer.  At the time I couldn't figure out why God wanted my word of the year to be prayer.  It wasn't until I read this verse that I understood.  This verse commands us to be joyful.  And what comes right after rejoice always?  PRAY continually.  And what was my verse for the year?  1 Thessalonians 5:17.  Smack dab in the middle of having joy and being thankful.  Oh, our God is such an awesome God.  While I was busy complaining because I didn't get a "cool kid" word for the year, God knew exactly what He was doing and what I would need  †

I found joy explained online as “Joy is an inward delight in God and an outward emotion that flows from His presence and His promises. It’s a state of heart and mind, based upon one’s relationship with God; not based upon circumstances, and very often this joy is shared with others.”

I was basing my joy on my circumstances.  I was pushing my joy to the side so I could make room for a big ole' pity party.  Don't get me wrong, some of these aspects still make me sad and break my heart.  But joy is my choice.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, second only to love, it flows from God, not circumstances.  We have a fundamental need for joy in our lives. Life without joy is overwhelming, depressing and just plain sad.

In the short book of Philippians {only four chapters long} Paul uses the word “joy” 16 times.  I find this absolutely amazing.  Do you know why?  Paul didn't write this book when he was on vacation at the beach.  He didn't write it overlooking a sunset.  He was in prison in Rome, waiting to be executed. In the darkest days of his life, he wrote the most positive book in the Bible.

So today, I choose joy.  Will you choose it with me?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4