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Finding Joy

By Robyn Wise
In Formed
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I’m not much of a puzzle person. I’m more of an ISpy, word search, Where’s Waldo kinda girl. You know these types of puzzles, typically you are “in search” of a specific item. Back in the day, there were these ISpy books that were an overhead picture of thousands of objects in a particular theme, and on the opposite side of the photograph, there was a list of specific items to search out. I like to look, to discover, to search.

Right before the pandemic made its way here and the shelter in place orders were put into effect, I was able to travel to the ocean with my family. My favorite morning activity was to search out shells that the morning tide was bringing in. Each day, my family and I would have a mini-contest of who could find the “shell of the day” Again, looking, searching, discovering.

Recently I’ve been introduced to the following terms: micro joy and positive alacrity:

Micro Joy - extremely small in scope moments that bring beauty or peace

Positive Alacrity - the art of creating micro-experiences that have an emotionally uplifting impact on others, a shared experience.

Ahhhh there it is. The reason that little morning seashell adventure brought such happiness and peace to those glorious mornings is that it shared micro-moments that were memory making, affirming, and new every morning.

Isn’t it interesting how simple definitions can unlock things we have never seen before? Upon further exploration on the topic of positive alacrity, an article explored the unexpected psychological benefit of positive alacrity - the effects of this behavior goes both ways by uplifting, observing, and voicing these micro-moments of joy to others, and we then actually absorb the joy ourselves.

If all of this is feeling a little too sunshine and rainbows in the middle of a global pandemic full of suffering, hang with me just a little while longer. There’s another word search that I love. It involves scripture and looking up definitions of words in their original context.

Chara happens to be one of many Greek words for JOY used throughout scripture. It speaks of an “adopted attitude” and choice of hope in God’s love and promises no matter the circumstance. I love this in the raw reality of Paul’s life in Second Corinthians 6:10 where he communicates that “we may suffer, yet in every season we are always found rejoicing. We may be poor, yet we bestow great riches on many. We seem to have nothing, yet in reality, we possess all things.”

So family, as we all figure out our way forward will you practice this? Hebrews 10:24 in the passion translation calls us to encourage one another in this way, to “Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.”

What if our beautiful work is as simple as acknowledging micro-moments of shared uplift as a response to choosing the hope that we have in common?

I’m treating this as my current version of the ISpy books - looking out for micro-joys everywhere, and even when I feel discouraged or poor, looking for the choice to acknowledge God’s generosity to me. I can do this by generously sharing with others around me how they are impacting me in a positive way - on my runs, in my apartment, on Facetimes, during Zoom calls, and in drive-by social distancing activities. When I spot one or, even better, experience one with someone by way of his or her action, I acknowledge the opportunity to practice - or rather adopt the attitude to create positive alacrity by calling it out at the moment as an act of worship.

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with JOY, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” - Proverbs 27:9

FORMED

God is calling us, the people of Irving Bible Church, to become a multi-ethnic movement of missionary disciples, formed in the way of Jesus for the sake of the world.

We want to be a transformed people who experience vibrant spiritual growth together. We want the Spirit of God to shape us more and more into the likeness of Jesus as we follow him.

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