Have you ever found yourself so busy or consumed by stuff you didn’t find much joy in the whole day? In this topsy turvy world we can rush right past the blessings and joy right in front of us overtaken by endless checklists and constant distractions. Sometimes I get so task oriented or caught up in the next meeting I miss the little things that bring joy. Another thing that steals valuable time is staring at my phone in between meetings and trying to keep with the social media world. Recently, I made a commitment to stay off my phone, keep my head up, notice people, and watch for the little things in life that bring joy. It worked.
The other day, when I drove my kids to school, instead of thinking about the three hour staff meeting ahead of me, I said, “Who wants to hear the Bible verse of the day?” We spent the ten minutes driving to school growing together in the Lord. I spent twenty minutes before the staff meeting being proactive texting several people in my contacts, “Hope you have a wonderful day – praying for you.” The interaction the rest of the day was great. As I drove to lunch, I made a point to just watch the people around me. I smiled when I saw the mom walking out of the dollar store holding her two year old and a plastic swimming pool. How fun! I laughed out loud as I saw a dog and a little boy both holding their heads out of the same window of the truck. I needed that. Another thing I tried to practice was active listening. Instead of thinking about what I was going to say next or day dreaming about something else I worked hard at listening to what people were saying. I even let the telemarketer finish their intro speech, said no thank you, and asked if they were having a good day. Weird, I know, but the long pause then the laughter from them was priceless. Instead of being on the phone when I picked up my kids from school I declined a couple of calls, talked to them about their days, and listened to their goofy stories.
The Bible says to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s hard to be thankful in all circumstances if you miss half of them because you are glued to your iPhone or caught up in your own troubles. We must stop and not only be aware of life happening around us but savor it – breath it in deeply. When was the last time you cooked a meal together as a family, sat down and ate it, and cleaned up the kitchen together? We live in a world of the 5-10 minute rushed meals as we transition from next to next to next to next. Our family tries hard to eat at home together at least three or four nights a week. That’s challenging but the world, work, and worry can be put on hold long enough to enjoy time with the family (and no TV or cellphones at the table).
Busyness is an enemy of joy. Jesus commanded us, “Love one another so your joy will be full” (John 15:12). Love takes work and time. Now don’t get me wrong. We should be busy but strategically busy and busy about the right things. Slowing down long enough to wrestle with my two year old or listen to a silly story from my nine year old is more important than checking the latest news on social media. Before I left the house this morning I hugged my wife all while the kids were yelling, “Dad, let’s go. We’re going to be late.” We wouldn’t have been late either way but hugs are intentional – they just don’t happen – so I seized the moment. Life is more than a schedule to check off – what about making it a journey to be experienced and cherished? You can move from one thing to the next thing so much and so fast you don’t really enjoy any of it. Life is short. Maybe all we have is today; tomorrow isn’t promised. Life goes by fast and kids grow up even faster. Tucking in my kids and reading them a Bible story is life well spent. Don’t miss the little things right in front of you. Joy can be missed if it’s seen as an event instead of an every moment experience.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.