Lessons from a recovering joy-thief.
You can never really steal anyone’s joy. However, you can interrupt others joyful moments. Like the time I usurped my husband’s joy by my false assumptions. Here’s how that played out:
I had a to-do list for the week. By Friday, I hadn’t accomplished anything. Mounds of paper work, scattered all over my desk, haunted me. My time “wasted” playing taxi-driver. I finally had a few moments to clear some clutter. Then Kelly called.
Kelly: Hey, I’m going out for lunch. You wanna come?
Me: You made yourself a lunch. Why would you waste it? (insert superior/accusatory tone)
Kelly: I didn’t waste it. I gave it to some homeless guy – along with my gloves (it was a bitterly cold winter day), and all my spare change. By the way, the guy said you make real good meatloaf.
I’m sure you know how I felt afterwards. What made me do that?
Answer: Familiarity. Kelly loves junk food. The greasier the burger, the saltier the fries, the sweeter the coke, the better it is – in his mind. I just assumed he was craving McDonalds. Sometimes we think we know someone so well that we give them no room to be better than we think they are.
I could provide a life-time of lessons from that experience, but I’ll stick to this:
False assumptions damage relationships.
Do you tend to jump to conclusions?
If so, here’s four ways to stop stealing:
Assume you don’t know everything. Ask for facts before making your conclusion. I could have asked Kelly why he wanted to go out, but I didn’t. Kelly wasn’t looking to indulge. He was hungry and had no lunch.
Choose to look for the good. It’s easier to find fault than to look for the good that’s right in front of you. Even though there were tangible clues – like, I heard the joy in Kelly’s voice – I ignored them.
Confess your opposition. Sometimes, if I don’t feel joy ain’t nobody gonna have joy. You know what I mean? When you discover that your desires are counter-will to God’s, confess your resistance. Ask God to give you the “want” to want to do the right thing.
Ask others to hold you accountable. Don’t let your pride rule over you. If you think you’ll be exposing a weakness that hasn’t been seen by others before – think again. Joylessness is observable. Ask friends to gently remind you when you are displaying your kill-joy attitudes.
Joy is the supernatural fruit which comes from having a right relationship with God (Job 33:26). Joy is for all believers in Christ – all the time. However, when we do a good deed simply because it’s the right thing to do, we experience joy in greater measure. Joy is doubled when shared.
Kelly chose to share his joy with me! I should have been honored. Instead, I sucked the God-given joy right out of him.
The best non-believers can hope to experience is a state of happiness. Happiness is solely dependent upon having desirable circumstances, so one can’t always be happy. Needless to say, joy is an awesome privilege and we have no right to steal anyone’s moment.
It isn’t easy to break out of your mold, but it’s worth it. We have the best reason to be joyful! Always. So let’s just do it!
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