I talk a ton about dreaming huge and crushing goals, and GOALS are vital. However, it’s the PROCESS that gets you there — the journey — that is the most important part. In this post I’d like to share with you why it is important to find joy in the journey.
While writing this, I am sitting lakeside at Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The water is crystal, with parts that are brilliant blues and greens, and the mountains in the landscape are magnificent with snow caps on top. The coloring is just breathtaking, and pictures don’t do it justice.
Let’s take the process of the journey and break it down from start to finish. The destination is a crucial piece, but once you reach it, you will realize it is the shortest part of the whole process. The journey itself is the piece that changes us, and we need to find joy in that journey of growth.
What Does it Mean to Find Joy in the Journey?
I frequently refer back to when I broke my ankle a few winters ago, but it is pertinent to this topic because it was an unexpected journey in my life. It was a wall that got in the way of my goals, and I had a choice to make at that point.
I could have chosen to be miserable, and no one would have blamed me. I could have chosen to be unhappy and go in that downward spiral of depression, which would have kept me from feeling content in my life right now. It’s important for us to find fulfillment exactly where we are.
That’s one thing Paul learned, and his trials were way bigger than mine. While in prison he wrote that he found the secret to being content in everything – having much or having nothing. What was his secret? Knowing God would give him the strength to endure (Philippians 4).
I wouldn’t have picked an injury for myself. I wouldn’t have said, “Hey, I want to break my ankle and change my whole life around.” However, I am going to find joy in this journey to recovery, and if I didn’t have that thought process, I don’t think I would be stronger or better for it.
In fact, I would be miserable. If I complained all the time about, “Why did this have to happen to me,” I’d probably make my family miserable. If I chose a “woe-is-me” attitude, I’d probably make my friends miserable too.
I chose to find joy in the midst of it all. Many people don’t realize that joy is a choice, but it is!
There are some positives that came out of this injury. I had the time to slow down, and it was probably an important time in my life to do just that and reflect on what truly is important. I had time to sift through all the responsibilities in my life and figure out what roles I needed to keep and what I needed to let go of.
The injury gave me more time with my kids to be more present with them. It also helped me to reflect on my goals, especially in running. What do I want to do in the next couple of years? What are my victory races going to be? Do I want to go for a personal best in the marathon once more? It helped me to dream and imagine again.
Sometimes I get caught in a rut where I just keep doing what I’m doing and forget to think about it, process it, and find enjoyment in it.
Finding Joy in Your Own Journey
Everyone’s journey is different. Your journey may be just a short while, or it may take years. We need to be willing to find joy in the process because if we don’t find it during the journey, we won’t have it when we get there either.
It’s easy to think, “Well, when we get through this season, when we get through that season, when this is over, when that is over, then I’ll be happy.”
“When my kids are out of the baby stage, then I’ll be happy.”
“When my kids go to college, then I’ll be happy.”
“When I’m an empty-nester, then I’ll be happy.”
“When I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.”
“When I win that race, then I’ll be happy.”
Here’s the reality, though: If you’re not happy where you are, then you won’t be happy where you’re going.
You can be content, but you don’t have to be stagnant. You can be content and still want more. Contentment means that you are joyful in the season that you’re in – whether you have plenty or you find yourself in the midst of a trial.
You can’t count on the destination to make you happy. You have to find joy in the journey.
Where is Joy in the Journey?
One of the main ways to find joy in the journey is to be grateful. Gratefulness, especially in the midst of trials, is one of the best ways to not focus on that obstacle or how much pain you’re going through.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).
The journey is the time to really enjoy the growth process. You may not see a plethora of change or much progress throughout that journey, but when you reach the summit, when you get to the destination, you will look back, and you will realize that you are a whole new person, and THAT is the glory of having a goal.
The journey will have its ups and downs. There are always ebbs and flows in life itself. The obstacles that we overcome give us a glimpse of victory and breakthrough along the way, and if we endure the trials with a joyful heart, when we get to the top, it’s even more rewarding because we know that we earned it. We know the process has changed us.
If you don’t enjoy the journey, you are going to miss out on all of the spectacular views.
While sitting near Lake Tahoe on a rock in the water, I realized I wasn’t anywhere near the summit. If all I did was focus on the top but not enjoy the view along the way, I would have been missing out on breathtaking, mind-boggling, no-words-can-express views.
Once we hit the summit (our goal) we will find out that the amount of time we spend there is so much more minimal than the time it takes to get there. If we only enjoy the view at the top, we totally miss out on the scenery along the way.
Think about it like wishing away five days of the week just to get to the weekend. I know that Monday through Friday aren’t always the most appealing, and we want to enjoy the weekend experiences. However, there are seven days of the week, and wishing away the weekdays means we are only going to enjoy two of the seven?! What a miserable life!
We have to find joy in everything that we do. If we aren’t joyful in it, if it really gets us down, then we need to think about changing what we’re doing.
Joy is a Choice
Many of us will blame people and circumstances when things do not go our way. Oftentimes, we are absolutely correct. Many situations are completely out of our control.
Does this mean we give up, pout, refuse to continue? Do we plod along in frustration, our heads bent to the wind and our hearts cold?
Joy is a choice. You can choose to be unhappy. You can choose to be angry and frustrated OR you can choose joy. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be happy, finding joy in the midst of a rough situation or the mundane.
What Does the Bible Say about Joy?
One of my favorite Bible verses that mention joy is from James 1. Here, James instructs us to be joyful in persecution. How can one be joyful in persecution? How can joy and persecution even coexist?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
I will let you in on a secret that scripture holds for us. Joy is not dependent on your circumstances. Joy comes from within!
David lets us in on the reason we can have joy.
“You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
Our joy comes from dwelling in God’s presence and doing His will. If God is leading you in the direction your journey is taking, then even the obstacles should be filled with joy.
“My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered” (Psalm 71:23).
Why do we have joy? Because God has delivered us from sin and despair. No matter where your journey leads you, no matter how things go your way or absolutely flop, you can rest assured that Christ’s work on the cross was for you and you have a reason to be joyful.
The joy of the Lord really is our strength.
The Final Stretch: Will You Find Joy in the Journey?
It’s great to focus on that destination, that end goal, but don’t forget about the journey that takes you there. Don’t forget to enjoy the sites, to take in those breathtaking views, and to enjoy that growth along the way. Find joy in the journey.
How will you find joy in your journey?
Step into the Fire and Come Out Stronger!
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