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Why I Want To Be Joyful Instead of Happy

This year I decided that instead of a “New Year’s Resolution” I wanted to choose a word for the year. I came up with this idea after listening to one of my favorite podcasters Sadie Robertson, who explained how she chooses a new word every year and tries to live her life according to both God’s word, and her chosen word.

I decided I wanted my word of the year to be “joy.” Though I think that we could agree that our world has been anything but joyful at the moment, I think that this word is still fitting. Here’s why: Joy is not circumstantial. I think we often confuse the words happy and joy as if they are synonyms, but they really are not. Dictionary.com states that the definition of happiness is a sense of confidence or satisfaction with a person, arrangement, or situation. The definition of joy is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope according to theopedia.com.

I constantly hear people saying things such as “I just want to be happy” or “I’m not happy with ____ right now.” Happiness is an emotion that can leave just as quickly as it came to us. If our desire in this lifetime is to always be happy, we are going to end up being disappointed a lot of the time. Many of us are not happy with how life is going right now. Many people around the world are getting sick, have lost their jobs, or are being trapped in the fear and anxiety of the unknown. Therefore, if our goal is to be happy all the time, a lot of us have failed.

But joy is different than happiness. Joy is something that can’t be taken away by the circumstances of everyday life. In the Bible, it constantly mentions being filled with joy or the fruit of the spirit being joy. Notice, it doesn’t promise anything about happiness. In the Bible, the word joy is mentioned 172 times depending on the version of the Bible you are looking at. The word happiness is located anywhere from 0 to 28 times. (I got these stats from google, so sorry if this isn’t 100% correct.) But, I hope you get the idea!

I do think God wants us to be happy. Happiness is a great emotion to feel! But, no matter how great our life is, we can’t be happy all the time. Because joy comes from a relationship with God, we CAN be joyful all the time. Before Jesus went to Calvary he stated, “These things I have spoken over you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jesus put his joy in us, and that cannot be taken away from us, even in a global pandemic.

I have a funny story to end! I just got a new kitten, and I named her Joy because I thought it was a cute name. Does Joy constantly make me happy? Nope. Especially not when she bites my toes at 5:30 a.m. to signal that she’s ready to get up and play. But does she bring me joy? Absolutely. There’s a comfort in knowing that she’s always going to be with me, no matter what twists and turns come in this life.

And that is why I want to be joyful instead of happy.

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