The Gift of Joy

I’ll never forget the day when my second oldest, who couldn't have been more then four at the time said to me, “mommy are you happy at me?” And I immediately said “of course I am happy about you. I love you so much!”  Then she completely caught me off guard and replied “then smile at me.”  

Even as I write this I feel the power of those words coming from my little girls mouth. It made my stomach turn.  It literally shook me and broke my heart that she could sense that I was obviously not happy and simply did not have joy right then.  I could tell her that yes I was happy but I knew she knew better. That day I realized that I had been depriving my sweet precious family of a vey powerful and wonderful gift.  The gift of joy. I had had a hard day..or probably a hard week and I had let it drain me of joy and happiness and my dear family had to feel the consequences of it. It was not fair at all. Since then God has so often reminded me of that day and I am thankful for it because I need that reminder and I realize I need to repent. You see, I want to choose joy. Even when the days are long and hard. I know it has a huge impact on my family. I want to purpose in my heart to build my house and not tear it down. Proverbs 14:1 says: 
“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands”
I believe that in our day to day countenance and and the tone we set for our home, we as moms have the power to build our house or tear it down.

One day I thought about the verse 
“..the joy of the Lord is your strength..” 
(Nehemiah 8:10) 
and it dawned on me that although I had heard that scripture over and over again I never really thought of what it meant. But all of a sudden it became so real to me. In Nehemiah chapter 8 it talks about how Ezra is reading the Word of the Lord to the Levites and once they understood the Word the people all mourned and wept. But now that they recognized their sin and repented, Nehemiah told them not to weep but to go and eat and drink and celebrate the Feast of Trumpets. Reading and receiving the law was to be a joyous time and the joy of the Lord was to be their strength.
Having a grumpy, negative, discouraged attitude sends the message that “I'm tired of being around you”, “you exhaust  me”.  This sucks the life out of a child (or any person).  It gives them no energy or motivation in life. They aren't naïve . They can sense a lot more then we think. Just like my daughter, who was so in tune with my emotions and was well aware of the fact that I was not happy because I wasn’t showing it. I had no smile. Even if it’s not because of them that we have a low spirit, they still take it personal. But oh what a difference when we give them a smile. Give them a pat on the back or a hug and kiss. Tell them a word of encouragement. And when there has been an issue, let us be quick to get over it and move on. Just as God is merciful and forgiving so should we be. Of course we need to discipline our children when necessary but I have had to learn to do it and not hold a grudge after. 

When our children see that we have joy it gives them strength. When we start off with a bad day we don't need to stay there! We can redeem the day and move on! Just like Nehemiah told the people. “..Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Proverbs 18:21 says it so well “Death and life are in the power of the tongue..”. We can make or break a child with the words we use and often we don't even need to use any words. Our body language says so very much.  Proverbs 17:22 says “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones”.  Once again scripture shows us that the joy we share brings life and the same goes with a broken dreary dries the bones…drains the life right out of you and those around you. 

Another verse I want to share is Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  The Bible has much to say about our words and their effects. We are not wise to think that if we have a negative self-pitying, downcast spirit, that it wont affect our home atmosphere. In fact if I think about it it is a huge turn off from Christianity itself. God has given us reason to rejoice and we are to do so even if we don't feel like it. Don't get me wrong. I know the reality of life.  It's hard.  We all have reasons to feel anything but joy. And when we go through these hard times we need to share with someone. Don't go through it alone. But my desire is that I wouldn’t show it day after day to my kids that its tough being a mom. They will begin to feel like they are the problem and we are tired of having them around. They'll begin to think we resent them or their presence. I want my kids to know that they are a joy to me and I believe when I show them that (through a smile, hug, kind word, undivided attention, etc.) it gives them strength and confidence and great security. 

"Choosing joy doesn’t come without a cost. Self-pity and complaint have a satisfying, self-righteous appeal. Perhaps we have the right to be angry, frustrated, and unforgiving, but when we cling to the negative, we deprive our family of the gift we want most to give—the gift of our love. Love doesn’t come without a sacrifice—the decision to lay aside negativity and embrace joy and thanks."   -Kelsie Steel. 

But I know that in order to have this joy I need Jesus. I need Him so desperately. And that's why I have started praying when I begin to lose my joy.  When the day becomes mundane and I want to just take it out on everyone. I'm a major work in progress but I know He is faithful to help me. And to hear me out. My kids are too young to always bear the burden and hear my long list of why I'm tired and burdened. But Jesus says “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. Matthew 11:28. He is our source of joy and we can go to Him for strength. When we do that our joy too can become a strength to our children.

Maria Banman
Lighthouse Gospel Church

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