How do you do that?
Joy grows when two people (or more) share it–it sort of bounces back and forth between you and each time you send it back to the other it grows! But someone has to start it…why not you? Pastor, leader, teacher, Joe PewWarmer. We can all grow joy!
Go back through the memory files and find an example of a time you knew God was with you or pleased, delighted in you. Or if you are like one fellow I know of, he did not have one memory of God or anyone pleased to be with him. The only pleasant memory he had was of a time when he and his dog were playing a game of jumping over a stick. My husband helped him realize how hard God had worked to give him that experience of belonging. He and his dog were a unit–inseparable. God wanted him to have that experience to know how it feels to belong. So that one day he could feel God’s love as surely as he could feel his dog’s love. God got that experience to him so he could believe that He could belong to God.
Our brains need to be trained to relate to other people and we use these same skills when we relate to God. God built us to pretty much have these skills down by the time we are done with the toddler years. So think about it–what was life like when you were that age? Think you may have missed a skill or two? Not to worry…these are “learned skills” and can be added later on. The brain is amazing in that way!
Here’s another resource to help you grow joy! One of the easiest ways to grow joy is to share what we call a 4+ story. This is a story about a time when you were very aware of God being with you. Chris and Jenn came up with this little sheet to help you think through your story so that when you tell it you will see joy reflected back to you. Others will amplify and reflect back your joy and so it bounces back and forth between you, growing as it goes. Okay, here is the little worksheet:
Click to enlarge and print.
Sharing joy between two people is the first of the 19 brain skills, #2 is being able to quiet and soothe oneself after both joyful and upsetting emotions. Skill three is establishing bonds between two and sharing a mutual state of mind that brings us closer and lets us move independently as well. Think snuggle time with baby. Skill four is creating appreciation–healthy minds are full of appreciation. It creates belonging and changes stress to contentment. Sill five is forming family bonds. Family bonds let us share the joy built by the people we love Skill six is being able to identify heart values from suffering. Caring deeply can mean hurting deeply. Our deepest hurts hide our deepest treasures. And skill 7 is telling synchronized stories, or a 4+ story.
Here is a link to a download showing all 19 skills. http://www.thrivetoday.org/nineteenskills.html
Our churches need these 19 skills more than ever. Relational skills, character skills and maturity are all best gained, practiced and nurtured within families and communities. When these skills are present, we naturally do what our parents taught us to do and the results are satisfying
Action Step: Try telling your 4+ story and let us know how it went. Better yet, share your story here! Or your questions!