All posts by Joy Steele Harris

Joy Steele Harris is a Christian and married mother. Joy has been affectionately called “Joy to the World” by multiple special people in her life. The named was later used during her first professional production of a play that she wrote, directed and produced. She also enjoys acting, writing poetry and journaling; and is intrigued and fascinated by what influences human behavior. Joy loves interacting with people and serves as the President of the Youth Department for a district of churches and works in various capacities at her own church. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in Nursing and currently works as a Registered Nurse. She is excited and very humbled by the opportunity to address submissions in Nouveau Exposure’s advice column.

Dear Joy…

What once was a title to be had in shame is now raised on a banner in hero status and that title is being a single mother. Yasira Sonnier knows all too well the tale of being a single mom. Her first marriage resulted in divorce and she found herself being a single mother of two young boys. She found herself being a college graduate without work experience because she was a stay at home wife and mother.

At the age of 28 her first job paid seven dollars per hour. To make budget for bills and other finances Yasira found a second job that paid eleven dollars per hour. Their father was active in their lives, but she was the primary caretaker and desperately wanted to be all things to her children. She struggled with not being enough for her children. The new responsibility of providing for her own home as well as her children was a curve ball of emotional distress.

 

Thanks so much for posing your question. First I want to commend you for desiring and striving to succeed in your marriage. I also understand the need to keep some of your marital details private.

Regarding the current situation, I personally believe this is a test for you. This situation is a tool that can be used to help you mature in the Lord and thus be a better you. It’s time for you to make a shift. It’s time for change to take place within you, your way of thinking, your personality, and your identity. This may be uncomfortable, but this is exciting.

First, make the decision to trust your husband. Say it out loud – “I trust my husband”. Don’t trust him based on whether he deserves your trust or earned your trust. Actively make the decision to trust him – no matter what. Then cease the snooping. I understand why you snoop and I’m not judging, but let’s move on from this step in your test. Don’t beat yourself up, just move off the snooping onto the next step. If you need to know something, it will find you; you do not have to search for it.

You stated you want to believe in your marriage and continue to move forward. Then, do just that…believe in your marriage and be happy. You have no new, justifiable reason not to. I suggest you don’t bother your husband with your suspicions if there is no tangible reason to do so. It will only aggravate him and cause turmoil for you both.

After you DECIDE to trust your husband, then turn the attention to your prayer life and spiritual walk with God. Like I stated earlier, this is about you. Make a prayer commitment. I’m not sure what your prayer life is like, but start small. Commit to 5 minutes first thing in the morning. It may not sound like much, but it’s powerful. Take your concerns to the Lord and ask Him to help you. Find a book that deals with trusting God. Check your filter and go on a fast. What are you feeding yourself? Are you watching and listening to things that do not benefit you spiritually? You can fast from food or you can fast from things like social media or anything that does not strengthen your relationship with God. Take a break from those things. Remember, when you take away these things you have to fill the holes with something spiritually beneficial. Attend regular church services and additional sources like bible study or Sunday School. Whether you attend a church you are excited about or not, go expecting to hear from God and God will give you what you need. Sometimes He gives a big dose of what you need and sometimes it’s a small dose, but go expecting.

You have to arm yourself with tools to overcome the growing suspicion in your head. If you don’t actively arm yourself, you will succumb to the thoughts and feelings and make a mess of things.

Your lack of trust in your husband is parallel to the holes in your trust in God. Fill your holes with trust in God and it will automatically rectify the trust barriers with your husband. This is an awesome opportunity for you to become more awesome! I hope you take advantage.

May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding;

Joy to the World

Dear Joy… Hope for the Hopeless

Dear Joy,

I am a, 20 something, single woman and sometimes I think maybe marriage is not worth it. I have never been married and it’s hard to meet someone on the same wave length as me. I mean, if he has it together financially and educationally, he doesn’t spiritually. Or vice versa. Then, there are the guys who don’t want to even think about marriage, because they’re keeping their options open.

I mean, I have friends that are married and some that are divorced already. Their marriages don’t seem all that great. They are constantly into it over stupid things, posting petty statuses on social media about each other. Some even know that their spouse is cheating, but refuse to confront them. Don’t get me started on the ones who have confronted their spouse but, the spouse hasn’t changed their actions.

I just don’t think dating to get married is worth the trouble if it’s just going to end up like all the marriages around me. Am I right or is there hope?

 

Hi Almost Hopeless,

I, indeed, know there is hope that “dating to get married is worth it.” Actually, there are current examples that are more tangible than hope. You just have to change the channel of the reality you are watching. Yes, there are many bad marriages that will absolutely discourage anyone with a brain, from desiring such a union. However, there are also many examples of good marriages, that will evoke much hope and joy at the thought of wedded bliss. Shift your gaze. Talk to people who are successfully married. Get an understanding of what having a successful marriage means. If you do not know anyone with a healthy marriage, go find a book about marriage. If you’re not a reader, find some you tube videos teaching on the concept of Godly marriages.

It’s likely, that your perspective of what makes a person a good husband, or what makes you a good wife, could use a reality check. The fact that you can’t seem to find this “ideal” man (who possesses everything) is a good indicator that your perception of what makes a man compatible needs adjusting. Trust me when I tell you, if you attempt to build a marriage on your own concepts, morals and principals…it’s doomed. A good marriage is built on Godly principals, not human understanding, desires and measurements.

As you are talking to people, reading, and viewing positive evidence, you will gain an understanding of the necessary components of a healthy marriage. This new understanding and insight will transform you and your perspective. It will also equip you with tools that will enable you to have good relationships with all people including your future husband. Purposeful dating that leads to marriage is absolutely wonderful; because God made marriage and everything God made is good (whoop whoop)!

Thanks for writing and posting your question. May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely;
Joy to the World

Dear Joy… Young & Married

My name is Rosie & I’m a Christian, 22 year old college student. I also happen to be engaged to the Love of my life, Malcolm who is a 23 year old student; and our wedding is this September!
It has been quite a journey leading to marriage, but since we got engaged this past Christmas, many people have taken the opportunity to give us advice. The general consensus on the advice given to us (a young Christian couple) is to not get married so soon, you are too young. A you tube vlog that I watched this week peaked my interest because she talked about being young and married. Her and her husband are a military couple & they got married at the age of 19 & 21. In this video she discussed the reasons why people told THEM not to get married.
People have given us a few reasons why they told us to not get married so young. They say things like “How do you know that your fiancé is really the one? You need to date other people. And how do you know what you like if you haven’t dated multiple people?” Others have said things to my fiancé like “You have the rest of your life to be married, you should be having fun now.”
Why do you think society is more comfortable with a young single parent raising a child, than a young & married couple?

 

Hi Rosie;

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for your submission.

I think the “comfort” level with single parents vs. young married couples is based on exposure. Unfortunately we see more single parents than successful young married couples; and thus it might appear that people are more accepting of single parents. We actually don’t see many successful marriages in our society period, young or old. The world we live in today teaches us to be self-pleasing, which is a poor foundation on which to build a marriage. Society does not value the necessities that a successful marriage requires, like a relationship with God, self-sacrifice and unconditional love.

I understand your frustration regarding the responses you and your fiancé have received. However, I think it would benefit you greatly to take heed to wise counsel with a spirit of humility, meaning don’t just automatically dismiss it as inapplicable to you. If people whom you respect and whom know you well are raising concerns, this warrants pause. Stay prayerful. Continue to seek God. Go on a fast or 2 or 3. This is absolutely necessary because Rosie, love is indeed blinding and your feelings cannot be trusted. It is almost impossible to accept any truth- that is contrary to what we want- when we are in love.

Fasting helps quiet the voice of our own desires and it helps us see those things to which we would be blind. We are then able to hear God clearly and receive an answer. Sometimes we will get a quick yes, no or wait. Sometimes it can be a process to get the answer. Look for indicators that you are in God’s will, like peace of mind, things flowing and coming together easily, support or lack thereof of the people closest to you, scriptures, sermons, Christian songs (what are they saying to you).

If you have done these things and/or you are 100% sure you are in God’s will then walk in that blessed assurance. I pray God’s will prevail in your life Rosie and that He continues to bless you with wisdom, knowledge and understanding!

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearken unto counsel is wise – Proverbs 12:15

Joy to the World

Dear Joy…

Dear Joy…

I grew up in the church. Literally my whole life the only time I ever missed a service was when I was finally old enough to work and was scheduled on Sunday’s. I can remember being a member of three churches in my life with the most recent being since we moved while I was in 5th grade and would have been a member of 16 years by now. When I was 18 I left for college returning every now and then but still going to the same church. When I was 19 I moved out to stay with my dad but still had a desire to go back to that same church because my family was there. This caused problems because I didn’t have a car so service times interfered and no one wanted to give me rides or let me drive but I managed.  My issues began when my pastor invited me to his office one day after service. I’m thinking this could be about me not being there as often as I use to or just a check in since I’ve been away at school but no. He brought me to his office to tell me that the way I dressed and presented myself was too “flamboyant.” As a young, maturing woman this turned me off from wanting to be there anymore because I didn’t understand. This was my pastor. On the other hand all the people at my father’s church always welcomed me with open arms with the come as you are spirit. I didn’t wear skirts or shorts that had my butt hanging out. I didn’t even wear jeans because I grew up “knowing better” per say than to come to church that way even if it was for choir rehearsal or bible study. But, I wore what I had and thought appropriate just so I could be there, where I had grown up and was comfortable. I didn’t feel he gave me any guidance or even cared about where I wanted to be spiritually but pulled me into his office to tell me off about my clothing. After all I was going through just to be there I felt embarrassed. Thinking if the pastor feels this way how many other members feel this way? Was it him that noticed or was it brought to his attention by someone else? My mom is even a member here, why didn’t anyone tell her so she could help me? After that I was dismissed. Since then the church saw less and less of me. That alone changed my perception of the church all because this is a place I had grown up and I didn’t know how to take what happened. Honestly, to this day I stay away from churches because I don’t want to go through that again.  I kind of feel like if I was treated that way after being a member and growing up there I can’t really imagine being a person walking in off the street.

 

Hi,

Thank you for sharing your story. Church hurt is indeed real. I know people who have been on both sides and it’s never black and white. You felt misjudged and misunderstood. I understand.

There are many things to address in your letter, but I am going to speak to the root. The root is a lack of forgiveness. When we do not walk in forgiveness, things that happened years ago have a negative effect on our current emotional state and the decisions we make. We develop skewed perceptions of people and our relationships with them. For example, a church hurt from your past influences your perception and decisions regarding attending church now.

I strongly urge you to forgive the Pastor that hurt your feelings. When we fail to forgive in one area of our lives, we fail to forgive in many other areas as well. This leads to a life of misery. We make ourselves a prisoner to our pain. If you forgive him in this area, you will change the course of your life. Yes, learn to forgive in this 1 matter and it will teach you how to let go of other things in your life and you can walk in joy.

Here are some strategies to help you learn to forgive:

Humble yourself
Realize you cannot do it in your own knowledge and understanding. Pray and ask God for help. We all need to be forgiven. Ask the Lord to forgive you for your sins and for all the hurt you have caused.

Extend some Grace
Recognize that you have hurt someone else as well. You have made mistakes and it helps when someone cuts you some slack. Try not to punish the pastor in your heart anymore. Try to view the situation objectively. Is it possible his intent was not to harm you? Think of the good qualities about him. Has he ever helped you, encouraged you? I suggest this because negative thoughts tend to flood our minds and we forget all the good qualities about the person. We become judgmental and hard heartened. If there be any virtue in him, think about those things.

Let it out, so you can let it go
Talk to the pastor; write him a letter; leave him a voicemail. Tell him in a respectful manner how you feel. DO NOT expect anything from him. Don’t expect him to apologize. You would do this just to get it off your heart. Many times our freedom starts with confession.

My friend, trust me. Take the step to forgive and discover the “you” that is longing and craving to come forth. The “you” that is free, unburdened and filled with joy. It’s time now.

May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely,
Joy to the World

Dating Quiz

Question

What kind of questions should a Christian ask on a first date?
Answer
Hi Christian Dater;

When a Christian decides to date, it is very important that the person is personally clear about their purpose for dating. Are you dating to have some fun? Are you dating to just have someone to hang out with? Are you dating whosoever is interested in you to pass the time until the right one comes along? Are you dating in anticipation of getting married? Please understand, dating for any other reason than to get married is VERY DANGEROUS and I do not recommend it!

It’s very important that a person learns themselves, becomes comfortable with who they are, and allow the Power of God to heal past hurts before they start dating. Failure to do so can cause much pain, disappointment and some consequences you are stuck with for the rest of your life. Worse of all, it still may not fulfill your purpose for dating in the first place.

But to answer your question Anonymous, I believe you should ask the other person what is their purpose for dating. It doesn’t have to be the first question, but it should definitely be A question. All other inquiries should fall into the categories that are important to you. For example: spirituality, family, education, work, hobbies, likes and dislikes. You do not have to get all your questions answered on the first date; and do not ask a question you are not prepared to answer.

In the meantime, I pray you find Joy in all the wonderfulness that is the Lord, and that you take full advantage of ALL the opportunities your single season avails to you.

Thanks for submitting your question.

May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely;
Joy to the World

Spring Fling

Joy to the World,

I have a dilemma. I am pretty sure I can guess what your response is going to be but I just wanted to write in because I am hoping that the response may be different from what I am anticipating. You see I work with this guy and we went on a date early spring of this year. He was very charming and I was really into him. I thought he was really into me. Then he hits me with lets not push this right now, let’s just be friends and casually see where this goes.

So, I casually just let it drift wherever he allowed it to go….which was no where! Before I knew it summer was over. We barely talked over the phone and hardly text either. Now all of a sudden he won’t speak to me at work and is not returning my text messages. But the thing that is confusing is that a mutual acquaintance came up to me at work the other day and was telling me about all these concerns that the guy has in regards to me. I mean, isn’t that immature? If he has questions about me, shouldn’t he come to me? This isn’t high school. We are adults. Why can’t he be a man, an adult…and come to me and ask me his questions himself. I didn’t even think that he cared what I did or did not do because he wasn’t trying to hang out, not speaking and not replying to my messages. What would you do if you were in my situation?

Hi Anonymous;

Let me first say, it is not wise to have personal relationships with coworkers. They create drama, dissension, and an uncomfortable work environment.  Relationships of this nature can directly or indirectly cost you your job, or worse damage your reputation.

Now, to answer your question, I would go and talk to him. Effective communication is a wonderful skill to have!  When you approach him, leave all the feelings and blaming out.  Leave the 3rd. party AND what they said to you out! Leave all of your assumptions of the motive behind his actions out!  Don’t judge him.

Please take the time to make sure you have moved on from the “spring fling” as well.  You talk as though you left him in your dust.  I’m not so sure you have though.   It would not be wise to approach him in an effort to make peace with a hidden hope to reconcile the relationship.  So please, be honest with yourself by examining what’s deep in your heart.  Then when you are ready, I would approach him and say something like “Hey, things have seemed a little weird between us lately. I am sorry if I did or said anything to offend you.  I just want to clear the air.”  Your expectation should be to bring peace.  That statement should be pure and sincere.  I hope it works out for you!

Thanks for posing your question and sharing your story.

May God bless you with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding!

Sincerely;

Joy to the World