The Spirit-Led Home: Joy


The “If-Only” Trap

Your kids are fighting, you haven’t gotten enough sleep, and your house is a total mess.  You can’t wait for your husband to get home so you can begin to recount the grievances of the day.As women, we often think, if only… If only the toys would get picked up every night, I would have a peaceful quiet time. If only my child was potty trained, I could enjoy my day more. If only my children showed me the respect I deserve as their mother, I would yell at them less.

Yet the “if-only” trap is a misconception, because it places our joy in our circumstances. True believers are able to have joy despite their circumstances because they set their hope in the Lord. When you were born again in Christ, you became a new creature, you have the Spirit of the living God in you. You are now able to walk by His Spirit and NOT carry out the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of walking with God is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Joy (chairó) is to delight in God's grace. Life in the spirit produces a gladness in that which we do not deserve. Our situation doesn't matter, because we lean towards the hope of Christ. We know that we deserve hell, but we've been given eternal life.  

The Spirit-led mother sets her eyes on Jesus, who “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [1] Because Jesus was able to have joy in difficulties, so can we.

The apostle Paul learned the secret of contentment whether he had plenty or want, when he was enduring multiple beatings, or was in the midst of a deathly storm, because the Spirit strengthened him to find his true happiness in Christ. The same Spirit that strengthened Jesus and Paul will strengthen us as well.

Joy Is Not Grounded in Parenting Circumstances

In parenting, this means that my joy is NOT grounded in my child’s obedience or how my day is going.  Sometimes it seems that my whole day can be “ruined” because of so many reasons:

  • My child will not submit his will to the Lord’s commands

  • I had many interruptions from my children or others that did not allow me to complete my to-do list

  • My children didn’t complete their chores before they went out to play, leaving me with more work.

  • My child is failing a core class and needs an additional hour of my attention each day.

  • Nobody enjoyed the dinner that I worked so hard to prepare.

  • I don’t have time to exercise like I used to and every time that I look in the mirror, I’m discouraged.

However disappointing this may be to us as parents, this should not affect our own joy.  Joy comes from grace given to us from the Lord Jesus Christ and is not based on my situation or others’ obedience/disobedience. As moms, we are tempted to make our joy dependent on our children’s attitudes, behaviors and successes. Yet true joy in the Lord cannot change because of others’ actions, it can only be squelched because of my own sin (Ephesians 4:30; I Thessalonians 5:19).

Anger, worry, despair, depression, complaining, withdrawal, are just a few of the manifestations of giving your joy away. In the middle of chaos, when you’re tempted to feel upset about your children’s attitude, the state of your home, or other trials, here are some things you can preach to yourself:

  • God has allowed this temptation to come before me. This circumstance is testing the sincerity of my faith.

  • Am I going to seek the Lord to fill me with joy or allow myself to try and be filled with something else?

  • Philippians 1:6 reminds me that he who began a good work in me is being faithful to complete me through this trial. I can have joy in being made more like Christ.

  • Every unbeliever can have temporary joy when their circumstances are good. Only a spirit-filled Christian can be happy in unfavorable circumstances.

Is it wrong to find joy in your child’s successes?

Now, what about when your children just brought home straight A's, your house is clean, and your home is peaceful? On those rare days, it’s also important to think about where your joy is coming from as well. Be careful not to seek after these wonderful moments rather than the giver of them. Thank and bless God for them.

Food for Thought

  • Is my joy based on how good my day has been?

  • Does my joy change based on my child’s obedience or disobedience?

  • Do I remember that no one can steal my joy, I can only give it away?

[1] Hebrews 12:2