In my quiet time, I heard the word “joy” whispered to my spirit. The mere mention of the word stirred a sense of excitement. However, I was still in a season where joy felt far away. I worked in a job that required me to listen to a formidable amount of complaining. I was a glorified customer service associate who worked with critical, academic, and largely atheist or agnostic clientele. To say it was hard was an understatement.

When I heard the word “joy”, I doubted it was for me. God must have got the wrong girl. Even though I wanted joy it felt impossible. Skeptically, I agreed to explore why God had whispered this word into my heart. After all, maybe it was a “get out of jail free card”. What I didn’t realize was that joy was bringing conviction.

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

(John 15:10-12 NIV)

As I began to seek what it meant to have joy, the Scripture above challenged me. To remain in God’s love, and to love others as he has loved me. I recognized that I wasn’t fully loving others the way that Jesus had loved me. I was harboring resentment and bitterness toward those that didn’t love me. God was gently exposing the truth that it wasn’t that I didn’t deserve joy, but my joy was linked to allowing God’s love to remain in me and flow through me.

“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)

As I meditated on these Scriptures, I tried not to beat myself up as I set aside time to be in God’s presence. I wanted to be filled with joy and his presence was where I was supposed to find it. I started asking God to help me love my difficult clients and see them the way he did. I asked for help in being sensitive to their needs, passions, and prayers. This habit of loving God and seeking to love others began to change me.

I realized this change after a stressful conversation with a client who had encountered a “user error”. Typically after someone verbally bashed me and my company, I would have grit my teeth and encouraged him to carefully review his settings. But this time I asked how he would like for me to help. I became aware of a huge deadline he was facing and how this was an epic time soak. I asked if he would like me to help set up both his and the other team members’ platform? A curt, “Yes, please,” was the response. This meant more work for me but I had a conviction to go above and beyond. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me, the least I could do was a little extra work for a client… even if he wasn’t very nice. I was practicing loving others.

I didn’t receive any gratitude once the task was complete but, I didn’t feel angry. I didn’t feel overlooked. I didn’t feel bitter. I knew I had done my part, and it was satisfying. Joy was residing on the inside! The next time I visited he said, “You are the best rep I have ever dealt with. Possibly the only competent person in the entire organization. Would you be able to do that for four more teams?”

That little victory pressed me even further into seeking to be in God’s presence. It taught me that daily time spent praising his name and seeking his wisdom were critical in loving others. Choosing to love others filled me with joy. Not fleeting happiness that wavers with circumstance but true unshakable joy. Joy from knowing I am loved by God, and out of his overflow I can love people and change my world. If you need more joy; love God and love his people.