Embracing Joy

Did you know that social researchers have found that most Americans are resistant to experiencing joy? It’s because they want to protect themselves from appearing weak, getting disappointed, hurt, or being taken for a sucker. Many people have chosen to live somewhere between “not too happy” and “not too sad.” They flatline. But in keeping themselves psychologically “safe,” they end up missing the whole purpose of living: to experience the joy of being loved by their good Father.

People so don’t want to experience shame that they will sacrifice joy to avoid it.

Initially in the Garden we were naked (weak, vulnerable, exposed) but we were NOT ashamed because we were connected with the most divine LOVE that ever existed. It bypassed any self-conscious scrutiny. We didn’t look at ourselves (our quirks, “weirdnesses”, awkwardness) and judge or compare because we were FULL in our union with God. When we chose to disconnect from that Source, we immediately began to experience the effects of shame, and ever since we have been trying to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, this has compelled us towards addictions, unhealthy relationships, ambition, control, etc. as a means of escape. And, as a result, we have lost our ability to embrace the blessings of JOY.

We were never meant to bear the effects of shame. It causes stress, physical and mental illnesses, self-hatred, loneliness, pressure, and unhealthy relationships. Although God designed us to live best connected with Him, He has always wanted us to have the freedom to choose. Love always provides that option. Even knowing we might choose to go it alone, suffering, without Him. Love bears all things.

Nevertheless, before the foundation of the world, God had a plan for our redemption: Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 2:2)

Jesus made a way out of our own self-effort and self-judgment. He did this by choosing to go to the Cross, enduring the shame of it. Keep in mind, crucifixion was a Roman method of execution that was purposely designed to bring intense shame. He was publicly mocked, ridiculed, and tortured, both mentally and physically. It was not an easy or simple thing to do.

Yet He did it for the joy set before Him. What was that joy?

YOU! You are His joy!

Jesus despised the shame of that cross. In other words, He saw it as nothing compared to seeing you enjoy life, freely loved and freely loving. He looked shame straight in the face and decided what was on the other side was far more rewarding.

Let’s choose to see ourselves as Jesus does.
Worth it.

Today, let’s have the courage to receive.
Let us embrace the joy His death and resurrection provided for us.

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