Choosing joy in the moment is the building block for experiencing joy in the journey. It’s a decision and something you get better at the more you practice.
“Man’s greatest problem is not to add years to his life, but life to his years.”
Can you relate to the conundrum reflected in this old quote? I certainly can. For me, this is the crux of embracing the journey.
“Embrace the journey” is the first thing I would tell my 20-something self if I could travel back in time.
You don’t find this exact phrase in the Bible, but I see its essence all over:
- I read Scripture and hear Jesus’ declaration in John 10:10, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”
- Every time I study one of my favorite Bible heroes, Nehemiah, I’m struck by his statement: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10)
- David summarizes his life (so often full of evil and heartache): “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Ps. 23:6)
Truly, I want to be someone who goes through life singing instead of whining.
But it’s easier desired than delivered.
Grasping this approach to life is a lifelong effort. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned along the way.
My Practical Secret: Take mental snapshots
I first discovered the value of pretending like my mind was a camera when my youngest was only a few days old.
I joke that this child got a different mother from the older two.
By the time she came along, I was keenly aware of how quickly time was passing and this mommy realized that the days were blurring together.
I was thankful for the thousand photos that told the story of my time with her older brother and sister, but I couldn’t bring as many “live” memories to mind as I wanted.
And so — standing there, rocking her back and forth — I told myself, “Remember this” and began to “snapshot” the moment.
I leaned in to her sweet baby head and drew a deep breath.
My nose snuggled the softness of her cheek, and I began singing my new favorite lullaby, “Be still and know … that I am God.”
This became a habit. She would be in her bassinet while I was in the kitchen cooking and I’d look over at her brown eyes that would shine each time I came into her view, and I’d stop and take a mental snapshot.
When it rained one Spring Break, I let the three of them take off down the street, jumping in the puddles. The baby was still in her nightgown.
I remember putting my camera down and soaking up the moment.
I can still hear them giggling; it’s one of my favorite memories. Whenever I see the pictures of that day, I’m transported back to the middle of the street, following behind my three amigos.
I have deep, sweet, multisensory memories that stick with me even today from having made this a mental practice for years.
Practice Choosing Joy in the moment
“Enjoy the little things,
for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.”
Choosing joy in the moment is the building block for experiencing joy in the journey.
Joy doesn’t “just happen.”
Deep, abiding, “strength for my soul” joy is truly a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5) and requires time with the Spirit through prayer and reflection on the truth of the Word.
But it’s also a decision … a habit … and something you get better at the more you practice it.
My own practice attempts
And so here’s how I try to practice it (when I remember) …
When the happy moments drop into life:
Take pictures, celebrate God’s provision, and pledge to remember.
These are the mountaintop moments and they are important.
In the normal rhythms of life:
Pause, watch, take mental snapshots.
Breathe in and choose to remember that normal, ordinary, everyday life is filled with God’s goodness.
In the dark valley seasons of life:
Preach to yourself of God’s goodness;
Trust in His presence;
Recall the recordings of the above when you can.
And then … when you surface on the other side of the valley:
Take another round of snapshots and build a mental monument to the Lord who carried you through.
The more you intentionally seek and record God’s goodness in your life, the more you will find that the joy of the Lord is your strength, goodness and mercy are following you, and abundant life in Jesus is a promise fulfilled.
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Ahh, you always have such a rich way of communicating the important things. This was truly balm for my soul, and I took a walk down memory lane as I saw your pics and relived my own in my mind’s eye. Love the rain snap shot.
“Deep, abiding, strength for my soul joy” and “build a mental monument” are just two of the phrases that resonated with my soul.
Have a good weekend – hope you’re taking lots of mental snapshots, Tex. ;)
We are kindred spirits on so much of this! Thanks for the reminder to put my own words into practice :)