I have seen it countless times on retreats, fishing trips, vacations, or moments of quiet solitude and reflection. I call it a return to joy. Perhaps you can relate to this scenario.
You remove yourself from the normal flow of life to a place where the pace, scenery, and community around you is different than the ordinary. You catch yourself thinking, dreaming, and remembering good moments in life past (and maybe recognizing it again in the present moment) and a smile comes to your face. A tingle in your spine. You do not need words because you recognize you’ve returned to a moment of joy in your life. Your soul finds a moment of rest and renewal in the memory, and life instantly becomes lighter in this moment.
In some recent reading and research I have discovered that there is something significant in returning to joy. God has wired us for joy. Joy, as it turns out, is a powerful shaper of our souls and lives…but we often miss, forget, or stop tapping into the joy in our lives. Without regularly returning to joyful moments, something else replaces that joy like stress, anxiety, strong emotions, numbness, and other. The opposite side of joy can also shape our souls…just not for the better.
I recently shared this exercise with a friend that I first encountered in the book The Other Half of Church by Wilder and Hendricks, which speaks to what we have learned about brain science and how it relates to the formation of our souls. I encourage you to take some time this week to work through this exercise and apply it to your life in the days to come. You may be surprised what shifts in your life as you return to joy.
Altar Fly Fishing is dedicated to helping people deepen their relationships with God, themselves and their closest relationships in life through our fishing retreats and follow up coaching programs. Part of our secret sauce is helping people return to joy so they can return home with a new (and joyful) outlook on life. Perhaps you will join us for an upcoming retreat.
EXERCISE: Finding Joy
STEP 1: Think of a few memories that make you feel grateful AND connected to God.
Give each memory a name or title.
STEP 2: Reflect upon what you feel as you reminisce.
What do you notice happening inside you as you linger with each memory?
STEP 3: What do you think God wants to impress upon your heart, say to you, or remind you of in each of these memories?
STEP 4: Putting joy into practice. When you feel stress begin to build or your mind will not rest, reflect upon one or more of these memories this week. Pay attention to what shifts in your mind, heart, and soul.
SCRIPTURE FOR REFLECTION:
Num 6:25, Psalm 4:6-7, 31:16, 44:3, 67:1: 80:3, 7, 19; Dan 9:17.
[Note: In these verses, literal Bible translations use the words God’s face vs other general terms. Faces evoke joy in others. Consider a baby when you make eye contact with them face to face…their face lights up. Realize that God’s face shines toward you as one of his beloved children.]