One of the best ways to dispense with discouragement in your life is to practice joy. How? By learning to love your life just as it is....God never promised us that life would be all sunshine and happiness. We know as Christians that we are not entitiled to "the good life." By God's grace, he gives us what he gives us....Joy comes in tiny segments. If we deal with life as it comes, moment by moment, one step at a time, we'll find it. Now is all God asks us to handle.
I wish I had the skills to communicate how much this concept has transformed my life. I've struggled with worry and perfectionism and control since I was a young child. The idea of practicing joy tells me that it is something that can be learned and that it is a choice I can make, to live my life joyfully. It says nothing about my natural disposition and neither does the Bible qualify those who are promised joy as the "sunshiney perky crowd." I am so thankful for this and I have begun to experience true joy in my life, despite circumstances, as I've looked at it as something I can actively seek and practice.
The first area that I have seen the effects of this change of attitude in is in my approach to mothering. Practicing joy means putting off chores when a child asks to be read to, playing a marathon-length game of Monopoly on occasion, choosing to care for a sick child with kindness instead of impatience and irritation. I think, I hope, most of the time this is something that can't be seen as I know that the person it impacts the most is me. It affects the memories I'm building of my time as a mom to young kids and I want those to be sweet ones.
Practicing joy hugely impacts my marriage. As Gary and I approach the anniversary of our first date (yeah, we're sappy and remember stuff like that), I asked him recently about how he is feeling about our relationship. His comment that I seem more settled and less confrontational is a huge compliment to me. Through the choice to practice joy God has blessed my marriage. I am so thankful for that.
Right now I'm off to practice quiet. Gary and the girls are off skating and Noah is outside playing with a neighbour friend. A Sunday afternoon nap just might be on the schedule.