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The Challenge of Choosing Joy

Am I the only one who feels like it’s easier to live in a state of perpetual disappointment instead of joy when it comes to being single? When my dating life has been defined more often than not by frustration and angst, choosing to be joyful is a challenge. It’s easier to start from a place of disappointment, rather than a place of hopeful excitement, especially when it seems like it will probably end up in disappointment anyway.

But whether it’s about my dating life or any other aspect of life, God calls us to be joyful. Not that we shouldn’t acknowledge the pain in our circumstances or allow ourselves to grieve over our unfulfilled dreams. But it’s easy to start expecting disappointment to the point where being joyful starts to feel scandalous. Or like we’re selling out on our dreams coming true if we’re joyful in what we’re given for today.

I’ve found that when I operate from disappointment, it becomes harder to be happy for anyone else. Becoming bitter seems like the only option, and that’s never an attractive quality in anyone.

Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I can’t be excited for my friends who are. Just because I’m not a mom doesn’t mean I shouldn’t celebrate when my friends are expecting. Being joyful sure is a lot more fun than being disappointed. And I imagine my friends appreciate a Happy Ashley rather than a Debbie Downer.

Romans 12:12 is one of my favorite verses, but I love the verses before and after it because it reminds me that being joyful is the mark of a true Christian.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight (Romans 12:9-16).

Paul reminds us that the Christian life is all about loving others not as much as we love ourselves, but even more. That’s hard when another wedding invitation arrives in the mail and I won’t have a plus one. But I can either live disappointed because it’s not me or take the focus off myself and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. It’s less about “why not me?” and more about “yay for her!” 

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