Choosing Joy

Photography- Callie Cherry

Two months ago as of this past Friday, I got to marry my best friend. But we never thought that we would plan a wedding in the midst of a pandemic… it was crazy. There was a ton that we learned as we were trying to navigate unchartered territory by planning a wedding in the midst of COVID. We had put everything on pause for over two months and did not start actually planning out details like flowers, bridesmaids outfits, decorations, sound, etc until two weeks before our wedding date.

As the wedding got closer, my anxiety surfaced to some of the worst it’s ever been. I found myself trying to plan out all the details, I would disagree or get heated with Jono several times a day, I became short with my parents…I found myself just wanting all things related to the wedding to be DONE. In a season that the world told me should be one of the most fun and happy seasons…I felt frustrated and complacent. Those two weeks felt like I was on top of the world one moment and in the next I didn’t want anything to do with wedding planning because it would just make me annoyed. And let me tell you, I don’t wish that upon anyone.

Two days before the wedding, one of my old mentors called me just to check in and to share some encouragement with me as the wedding was soon approaching. And something he shared stuck with me. He shared how everything that is planned should be done intentionally leading up to the wedding. But on the day of the wedding, I needed to do everything to protect and choose joy. I was reminded that I couldn’t let the little things that would come up or unforeseen events steal my joy on my wedding day. That this would be a day I would like back at for the rest of my life and I would regret letting the little things steal my joy. Because five years down the road, five months down the road, five weeks down the road, or even five days down the road…none of that would matter. What will matter is the promise that we made before God. And I was reminded that this is what I had to keep my eyes on that day.

And when the actual day of our wedding came, I woke up fully at peace, filled with excitement and joy, and reminded of God’s faithfulness. That whole day I was reminded of how God is faithful and that there was nothing that could go wrong that could steal my joy because my joy is rooted in Jesus.

As I kept going through the day, I found my emotions being steady regardless of what happened. And let me tell you- a lot that could have gone wrong on our wedding day did LOL. One of the buttons on the back of my dress broke before I walked down the aisle, one of my bridesmaids accidentally pricked herself while pinning me and blood was stained on my dress, our livestream had technical issues, I had forgotten parts of my outfit at home, our changing rooms had not been cleaned prior to our arrival, some of the staff had no idea what we were doing at the venue…but I had made such a stubborn decision to protect my joy that day- I didn’t let the enemy use any of these things to distract me to take my eyes off of Jesus that day.

And when I look back at that day, it makes me wonder why that’s not a daily decision that I made intentionally. If there’s anything I learned on my wedding day, it’s that we can choose joy even when the world says it makes no sense. When our joy is fixed on the One that never changes, never fails, never leaves us– nothing can take our eyes off of Jesus. But it’s an intentional decision that has to be made constantly throughout or day. It’s not something that just happens when we decide to give our life to Jesus because the enemy will only try harder to distract us and steal our joy as we pursue Jesus.

But it’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your joy is worth it. Jesus is worth it. And know that there are people on the other side of your joy. When you’re at work or school, the people around you will start to ask why you act, talk, and smile the way you do. When you’re at the grocery store or a restaurant, the server or other customers will wonder why you are not acting out in frustration or anger when things don’t go the way you think they should. People notice more than we think. And our joy speaks volumes. Because when we choose joy, our interactions with people shift. We don’t make things about us. The way that I see it, happiness and joy can be confused but are rooted differently. Happiness is rooted in our circumstances which change and shift day to day. Joy is rooted in faith and hope. And as Believers, our faith and hope is found in Jesus who never changes. We want everything to be about Jesus, and as we do that- we’re able to love others with more passion and intentionality. And that’s exactly how the world will know we are disciples of Jesus- by our love.

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