Feeding Joy

Monday, June 22, 2009

I know two ladies who shared duties as librarians. One lady I’ll call Martha welcomed students with a warm smile and cheerful greeting. Besides spending time teaching them about how to use the library and giving them research tips, she took an interest in them. Martha discovered their interests and recommended books and magazines that they might like. She served as a mentor to many students over the years, providing financial support for kids to go on school trips and helping them with college applications. Martha chose to live a happy life and created a warm learning environment. On the other hand, "Judy" created a cold and uncaring atmosphere. She typically hid behind a computer screen to avoid eye contact with students. Jealous of Martha, Judy often made snide remarks and talked unkindly about students and teachers. She appeared to be filled with negativity and resentment.

These contrasting figures remind me of a story about a Cherokee elder. The elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is Unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, and inferiority. The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope serenity, kindness, generosity, truth, and compassion.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Our tendency as humans is to register negative thoughts and feelings deeper than positive ones, so we often feed the wrong wolf. We need to reverse this habit by choosing to dwell on the joy in our lives.

Forms of the word “joy” and “rejoice” appear fifteen times in the book of Philippians. Paul advises the church at Phillippi to live the Christian life with intentional joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4: 4-9

Let’s feed the joy in our lives!


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