- BETHANY HOWARD bethanyhoward.com
Joy Cultivates Joy
Joy cultivates joy. Bitterness cultivates bitterness.
A bitter mom leads her family to chaos. A joyful mom leads her family to peace.
I want to be rooted in joy and witness peace bloom in my home. I will never be able to do that if my three impressionable kids see me lose my mind when dinner burns to a crisp because I'm preoccupied with looming transitions. It's unfair to all of us to then hope for peace, when I'm cultivating bitterness. When I mother from a place of bitterness my kids get my impatience, frustration, and anger and that leads to a rough day. When that is multiplied, it leads to a life of chaos.
If I want my kids to be agents of peace, then I have to teach them that joy is what feeds and strengthens me for the work at hand. They don't know much about the disappointments of life or the startling realities of our world yet, but one day the will. And they will need to know how to respond out of joy. The only way they'll learn that is if I do the work to cultivate joy in my own heart.
The pursuit of joy is a discipline. If we don't see it as a pursuit and a discipline, bitterness creeps in. I make space for joy when I spend time with my creator so that I can silence joy-stealers with truth.
Here's a few examples of joy-stealer: I don't have what I need. I am unlovable. I am not capable. Those three pack a punch, don't they? John 10:10 says, "A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. Our hearts don't get sustenance from lies. Truth feeds us and enables our hearts to choose joy.
A joyless existence, or just a meager supply of joy, will fracture my connection with my kids, my spouse, my world and with God. An abundant life, the life that I am called to live, is out of my reach if I don't cultivate joy. I will miss opportunities to lead in my community and will not even see all the goodness that lives in my house if joy doesn't make a way.