I choose joy. These are the words that I used on the last day of 2014, as I looked back on the past year. What I did not know was that these were the words that God was waiting to hear from me. Joy is important to God. Depending on the translation, the Bible includes the word joy over 100 times. Since I decided to choose joy, God seemed to flood the Bible verses and devotionals that come to my email every day with the word joy, reinforcing my choice.
Choosing joy is something that came easily to me for most of my married life. For me, the joy that I found in being a wife and a mother was a gift from God. There were times during the day where I’d just stop and thank God for the blessings in my life. That ended in July 2013 when I came home from a shopping trip and found that my husband, Gar, had peacefully and unexpectedly passed away. Within seconds, that joy turned to grief and despair. That was a cloud that I lived in for over a year.
During that time, joy would try to sneak in, and once in a while it broke through the barriers that I had erected against it. Joy just didn’t seem right with all of the grief that I was carrying around. Now, grief is not a bad thing, it’s part of a healing process that is needed to move on, and as with all emotions that we feel, grief comes from God too.
I finally discovered that if I were to move forward, I needed to choose joy. It doesn’t mean that the Gar-sized hole in my life has gone away, the memories are greeted with joy instead of grief. The reason that I chose joy was because it seemed the best way to honor God’s love for me, and the love that Gar and I shared for almost thirty years. Joy is a decision we all need to make. My prayer for you is that you choose joy.
Nancy Giddings serves on the churchwide executive board; she lives in Blaine, Minn.
Photo by Rach. Used with permission.