I hate to say it, but somewhere in our past, haven’t we all known a “killjoy”? Aren’t there women we’ve come across in our lives who manage to dry up every speck of happiness in their circle of influence? Let’s just get this ugly part out of the way first, because we can learn just as much from a negative example as we can from someone positive. So, why not spend a few minutes considering the women you don’t care to emulate? Here are a few characteristics from some of my not-so-great memories: moody, demanding, overly-sensitive, glum, impatient, cranky, hard to please, selfish, lacking a sense of humor, pessimistic, critical, bossy and sour.
Whew! I’m afraid to admit that at one time or another, I have been guilty of being a killjoy in my own home. You may have heard the saying: “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” It often seems that Mama is indeed the one who determines the tenor of the home, and isn’t it sad when she won’t choose to make it a joyful place?
What is joy? Joy can be felt, but it isn’t only a feeling. It isn’t limited to the temporary (sometimes selfish) pleasure or happiness that comes from possessions and accomplishments, as the world would sometimes have us believe. “Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense…” (Proverbs 15:21). In fact, joy comes from unexpected places. Joy comes from suffering, because suffering leads to character and endurance and hope (Romans 5:2-4). Joy comes from obedience (John 15:10-12). Joy comes from giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Joy comes after a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:7-17).
True joy is the result of a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is a fruit that grows among other beautiful qualities such as love, peace, and kindness when we do away with ugly characteristics like jealousy, anger, and envy (Galatians 5:16-24). As a matter of fact, if every individual in every family would cover themselves in those “fruits of the spirit,” their homes would be running over with joy. Imagine a home full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! Imagine a home absent of impurity, idolatry, hatred, strife, jealousy, anger, rivalries, divisions, and drunkenness!
Practically speaking, how can we promote joy instead of killing joy in our homes? With conscious effort and God’s help, home can be a beautiful, joyful place.
Turn off (some of) the TV
Not all television is harmful! But if your idea of how a family should function comes from modern television, you are far off track. I’ll never forget seeing an episode of the 90’s sitcom “Roseanne” where family members treated one another with complete disrespect and scorn. Television shows often portray the father as a buffoon and give the impression that teenagers have more common sense than their parents. These attitudes can creep into our own hearts and lives, and affect our homes. Instead of watching the “Modern Family” – why not study and emulate God’s family, where husbands love and honor their wives (Ephesians 5:25-33) and fathers lovingly instruct their children (Ephesians 6:4); where wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24) and love their children (Titus 2:4); and where children obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3)? As always, God’s way is best. A joyful home is one where God’s plan is followed, and as I’ve grown older I’ve realized the truth of this passage more and more: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
Maintain your relationships
My brother and his wife have an air conditioning and heating business. Much of their time is spent on system tune-ups: checking refrigerant levels and monitoring the condition of the coils and valves and connections (none of which I know anything about!). The remainder of their time is spent repairing those systems that have not been properly maintained! Inexpensive and simple filters that aren’t regularly changed can lead to costly repairs. Likewise, relationships need regular maintenance in order to run properly. John and I spend every Monday together, unless it is absolutely impossible. What we do or where we go isn’t important; only that we spend time together. Teens whose ears are constantly covered by iPod headphones and whose eyes are always engaged by some form of electronic entertainment are going to miss out on real life relationships. Unplug them and engage them in conversation in the car and at the dinner table – even though it can be a struggle! A little bit of maintenance along the way truly makes the home a calm, safe, joyful sanctuary set apart from the struggles of the world.
Have a sense of humor! Laugh together! Yes, table manners are important. A sense of decorum is important. Etiquette and tact and clean rooms are important. But home should be a place where we can slurp spaghetti and wrestle on the floor and bump into the furniture, occasionally say “Excuse me!” and laugh at corny jokes. We should feel at home at home. Love and laughter, and acceptance and comfort, all play a huge part in making a home a joy-filled home. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Much more could be suggested. Keeping our priorities in proper order brings joy. The result of consistent obedience is joy. Fulfilling responsibilities brings joy. Liberal affection gives joy!
I doubt any of us have ever intended to be a killjoy. Those women from our past would likely be sad to know their effect on us. Our desire and intent is to have peaceful and joyous homes, but sometimes we lose track of how to make them that way. He is the key, and He has the perfect plan: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11).
By Carla Moore
Carla and her husband, John, live in Dripping Springs, Texas where John is a full-time minister. They have three sons: Jordan, Jacob, and Micah, and discovered the joy of having a daughter when Erin married Jordan! Carla has been a homemaker for 26 years and mom for 23, and has enjoyed a number of part-time jobs while staying home with her boys.