A couple of weekends ago, I had the immense privilege of hanging all weekend with “my youths” (AKA the youth group at Northstar Church). The students in ReVerb are truly amazing and continue to impress, inspire, and encourage me daily.
The theme of our Winter Retreat was Joy. Something we probably all need to recognize more in our lives. Amidst emotional, spiritual, and political turmoil, it can be hard to focus on the Joy and blessings God has given us.
As a part of our study with the young women in our youth group, we took a practical approach to cultivating a life of Joy.
Alex defines joy as a “good feeling in your soul produced by the Holy Spirit recognizing the beauty in all circumstances,” which itself is a beautiful definition. By this definition, he believes we cannot “choose Joy,” which we know is a very trendy phrase right now. Yes, it is an emotion or state, but it is deeper than temporal emotions. We choose Jesus. Jesus chooses us, and Joy is a GIFT from the Holy Spirit.
But why are we stuck on the idea of choosing Joy? Well, I think it’s because there is something to it. Maybe we cannot choose to suddenly be Joyful, and we can’t give ourselves the initial gift of supernatural Joy. BUT, we can choose to live our lives in a way that harbors an environment where Joy can thrive.
In an effort to create a practical and visual way to recognize Joy, we created our “Joy Plans,” which I’ll share with you today so you can create your own! These can be deeply personal and look however you want them to look. We made ours super cute, because it’s fun. And it’s more fun to look at, which means you’ll look at it more 🙂
- The top line is blank intentionally. Fill it in however you like. It could be “Joy Plan,” “Ode to Joy,” “Joy to the World,” “Pride and Joy.” I really don’t care. Because it’s for you!
- Under Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually, write ways you can cultivate Joy in those categories.
- If you don’t know where something fits, put it in Other.
- Decorate it, DUH!
- Hang it or put it somewhere you see everyday.
- Each week, focus on one of your points, and try to implement it in your life.
My Joy Plan is clearly FILLED with examples! Some are from me, some are from the girls, some are from fellow leaders. Don’t be afraid to doodle and add to your plan at any time. Mine is getting a little bit beat up at this point.
For our first week back, we decided to focus on a Mental/Spiritual way to increase Joy. We’re listening to more Christian music this week. A super easy way to challenge ourselves and keep our blessings in mind!
God says we’re worthy of a life filled with Joy, so we are. So let’s do our best to recognize God’s beauty and the Joy He has given us.