Growing up, I never liked Sunday evenings. The dread of Monday kept me from enjoying the last moments of the weekend. Monday’s sunrise seemed to be accompanied by many friends; stress, dread, deadlines, and fatigue. I am a naturally perky person. I have ample amounts of positivity and energy, but they were no match for that joy-stealer called Monday.

But, that was then, and this is now.

I love Mondays!
Over the years I’ve learned to use four tools to help me experience real lasting joy. Yes, even on Mondays.

Nothing makes my blood boil as fast as when I am in a bad mood or dealing with something very stressful and my husband encourages me to find something I am grateful for. I know it’s his way of paying me back for the million times I have done the same to him. And while it irks me to no end, I am grateful. I want to practice what I preach! Gratitude is a core value of joy. It is tested and proven true.You know what else is true? That there is something in us that likes to wallow. We love a pity party. The mud pit of grumbling and complaining somehow feels good to us, but not to anyone else! When we identify and state the things we are grateful for it pulls us out of the dirty pit of hopelessness and woe. We are able to see the goodness of the Lord all around and partner with it. Gratitude is the gateway to joy.

Question: have you partnered with entitlement instead of gratitude?

Here’s a little mathematical equation for your day. 70 x 7. Sound familiar? It’s the amount of times Jesus wants us to forgive the ones who’ve hurt us. This is not easy, especially when they aren’t sorry! Why does the Lord care so much about our forgiveness of others? Bitterness, anger, resentment and disappointment contribute to the hardening of our hearts. When our hearts are hard we not only have a difficult time giving love but also receiving it. The root of joy is the love and presence of Jesus. In order to be filled with joy it starts with him. When we receive his forgiveness we experience true freedom. Being in relationship with the Lord means that we get to stay free from the bondage of sin. But there is an enemy at work trying to tie us back up. There is no such thing as private sin. Every action and reaction has an effect. If we don’t stay aware of the state of our heart walls will quickly erect and our ability to love and be loved will be greatly affected. Forgiveness helps our hearts to hold more joy.

Question: Is there someone you need to forgive?
Try this forgiveness model,

1.  I forgive (name) for ……. (The things that were done or said).
2. Because it made me feel ….. (list the feelings that their actions or words caused)
3. Surrender those feelings to Jesus
4. I bless (name) with ……(bless them with what they need, love, compassion, awareness, health, a relationship with Jesus, etc)
5. I bless myself with ….. (what was stolen from you, peace, joy, hope, etc)

“My way or the highway.” “I’m a control freak.” “I don’t like change.”  These are sure fire joy stealers. All too often we find our peace and joy in routine and the facade of control. We believe the lie that our security comes from the known and our ability to maintain the status quo. Routine and order aren’t bad, however, when we practice flexibility we become more likely to maintain joy, not if, but when things change.
The Holy Spirit is associated with fire, wind, and water – all things that move freely. The Good Shepherd is also one who moves his flock around often. He knows where the pastures and water sources are abundant, but the sheep don’t see it. Flexibility places trust in the goodness of the Lord. Keeping an eye on the Lord and an ear tuned to his voice helps us stay filled with joy no matter what change may come.Flexibility allows us to follow the Joy Bringer, Jesus!

Question: Lord, what am I holding too tightly to?

What’s the thing that we all want, refuse to do, and complain about not having? Rest. But if we just would make it an intentional practice (something the lord has been trying to get his people to do since the very beginning) we would not only be rested but filled with joy! Rest helps us stay connected to the source. We are reminded that we are children of God, not slaves to the grind. It’s the Lord who provides, not our hustle. “But I don’t have time!” It’s the cry of every busy person on the planet. During his ministry, Jesus was the most in demand person to walk the earth. If he could look the throngs of desperate people in the face and still decide to go have a rest, so can we! What makes us believe that we are any more in demand than the Lord himself? Resting allows us to keep our ego in check as well as fill our tank. Well rested people have more patience, perspective, and joy.

Question: What is it that you can say no to in order to rest?

I practice each of these tools almost daily in order to maintain a life filled with joy. Finding the Lord’s goodness everywhere and choosing gratitude, keeping my heart soft through an ongoing forgiveness check-in and practice, loosening my grip of control and trusting the Lord to lead and protect, intentionally carving out time to rest in my identity as a daughter of the King  so I can take on the things he’s called me to steward. Because of this, I am no longer afraid of people, circumstances, or even Mondays!

Season Bowers