As I go through my life, it becomes more and more apparent that I am far from perfect. The older I get, the more mistakes I seem to make. That includes things I mess up when I’m in the woods, relationships, and just life in general; but let’s be honest, that’s all of us. The Bible addresses that we will all fall short of the glory of God. So, how do we deal with our mistakes? How can we live our imperfect lives to the best of our abilities? It all comes down to the way we handle the hardships and victories: the difference is whether we invite joy into our lives daily or live a life based solely on happiness.
One of my most memorable moments in the woods came during my senior year of high school. Ty and I decided to skip school one Tuesday morning (our parents still don’t know), to try and knock down Ty’s first PA longbeard. We hunted hard all morning, but the birds just didn’t seem to cooperate. As 11 a.m. rolled around, we had a bird hammer back to my call all the way across the farm. With no other choice, we decided to try and make a move. We got over and set up my dad’s Avian X hen decoys (which he didn’t know we took), and started to reel this bird in. Within 15 minutes, I had this bird fired up and coming on a string, and not much longer, there he was. I looked to my right and saw a beautiful bird in full strut looking for his hen. As Ty tried to reposition, the bird picked us off, and it was over just like that. Instead of being mad, both of us just spent the rest of the day talking about how cool of a morning we’d had. We made a mistake that morning in the woods, and it cost us a turkey. So what? Are we going to let that dictate how we act and think about the morning we just experienced? Of course not.
Just like that memorable Tuesday morning, we have a choice to make every single day when we wake up. Are we going to choose joy, or happiness? The difference between joy and happiness comes from circumstance. Joy is a personal decision to have the love of Christ in our hearts day in and day out, regardless of what is going on, or where we are in our lives. It’s the decision that no matter what, we are going to make the most out of every situation we’re thrown into, with a selfless outlook on our lives. It’s making a difference in someone else’s life even when life seems like we have a sign on our back that says, “kick me.”. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”. If we live our lives based on happiness, we’ll find ourselves on a rollercoaster of constant ups-and-downs. Happiness occurs when we keep our eyes on ourselves, and the things we have at that specific point in time. Happiness is a “Me, me, me” mentality, and as we all know, life is never going to be all about us.
The only reason that morning has stuck with me, even four years later, is because of the outlook that we had after it all went down. Could I have thrown a fit and kicked some dirt? Sure. But why would I choose to do that when I had the opportunity to see one of God’s most beautiful creations with my best friend on a day we spent in the woods instead of our classroom? It’s a personal choice to make everyday, and I promise, life is so much more beautiful when we choose to invite joy into our lives.
Trey Pritchard, TNT Outdoors