Sometimes we approach joy as if we were taking a pop quiz. The art of joy requires more than one coat of paint.
When my son turned three, TJ graduated from the crib to an actual bed.
Solid wood beds cost a big chunk of money. Add in a super-hero boy, arms loaded with hotwheels and tinkertoy spears — and you’ve got a stressed out mom in the making.
So we settled on a lower cost, saner approach. We hauled a bed made out of “natural wood” upstairs and I was commissioned to hit Home Depot to pick out the perfect shade of honey.
In short order, I piled cans of wood stains into my cart, each promising tints in thumbnail images that looked menacingly alike. I was stuck on aisle 2 with a string of cans under my arms and in both hands, torn between too many colors.
My left brain would’ve probably self-imploded had it not been for the guy in a canvas store vest.
I walked out of the store semi-traumatized but got educated on the basics of wood staining:
Buy some samples and experiment with colors on the back of the bed.
Apply a layer at a time and allow time in between to dry.
The stain turns deeper with each application.
One detail: Paint looks different wet than when it’s dry.
Last but not least: Have fun! ( I definitely threw him a blank look at this point. )
There’s quite a lot of new changes I’d like to make in the new year.
I’ve taken a faith dare: to see myself as God’s delight.
Expressing Joy — in bold and care-free quantities — is a big part of taking on this identity.
Joy is a journey I began last year and now, it’s become my soul resolution.
A Soul Resolution
I don’t make new year resolutions. They’re great for setting goals at work or getting things done. But at the end of the year, my life isn’t about what I’ve done, but who I’ve become.
I’ve developed a yearly habit way that goes back to my college days, that’s continued into my adulthood — from student to working woman, singlen to married — to life now as a mother and a writer.
I take time out to reflect on my spiritual journey. I look back on the past year to see where I’ve been. Then I pray and read Scripture to ask God where he’s pointing me in the coming year.
Soul resolutions are not about what I’m doing, but who I’m becoming in Christ.
I call it my New Year’s “Soul Resolution”, because it’s more about living it out in my heart, rather than striving to accomplish a goal.
This year, my one word for the new year is “delight”, taken from Isaiah 62:4 —
“It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”… For the Lord delights in you.”
Five Principles of Joy Staining
As I try on different ways to experience “delight”, I see the same principles of wood staining apply to joy.
We even have someone more knowledgeable than the store reps. We get to practice these Five Principles of Joy Staining with our Beloved Carpenter, Jesus Himself.
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11
The Five Principles of Joy Staining
1. Give joy a sampling. Try different things — or doing things differently — to see what joy looks like for you. Experiment in small doses.
2. Give your joy ideas time to dry. Once you try something for the first time, avoid judging yourself or criticizing the experience harshly right away. Give yourself (and others, if they’re involved) some space to be imperfect.
3. Joy takes more than one coat of paint. You might not even feel joyful at first. You will find that joy gets a little deeper as you feel the freedom to trust and just try. (I found that by just trying, even as I’m nervous, I feel a tinge of joy!)
4. Joy looks different wet than dry. You’re on a journey, not taking a “Joy Test”. There is no pass or fail. Joy comes from the heart and the heart is very resistant to demands or “Thou Shalt”.
5. Joy is fun! Yes, there is a shade of peaceful, quiet joy that comes through suffering. Don’t forget that the kind of joy that is sunny, exuberant and just plain fun is equally as godly too!
Heard of Naaman?
I gathered up these five shots of faith, after being inspired by Naaman, the “valiant warrior” from Aram who was also a leper. He wanted to be healed of his disease. But when the prophet Elisha told him to travel to Israel and dip into the river Jordan seven times, he got angry and discouraged.
After some encouragement from his friends, he decided to do it anyways. On the seventh dip, the Bible says his skin became as soft as a newborn baby!
As you step out new this year — on your faith journey — you may be tempted like I’ve been thinking, “Who am I kidding?”
Before you throw in the towel —
~ Remember who inspires your new beginning — God.
~ Keep dipping!
On the nth dip — God knows when that is — we will see joy deeper and truer in our everyday experience.
Let’s keep encouraging each other. Let’s keep painting the world with faith in what God’s doing.
I’m not even talking about the “big” things.
In the everyday things that no ones sees, that is where God faithfully meets us — because He sees.
What keeps you encouraged to step out in joy?
Do you have a soul resolution? How is God calling you to become new this year?
Pull up a chair. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share a comment .
By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
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