Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pursuit of Joyfulness

I love moments of delirium, when everything is hilarious and jokes flow as easily as ice cream melts and dribbles down a toddler's chin on a hot August day.  These moments just don't occur often enough - and for me, this doesn't happen on normal days, but is more often the result of too much sugar coupled with too little sleep.

Show me a bottle with some florescent yellow-colored happy pills (yes, they have to be bright yellow), and I'd be the first one in the room to pop one into my mouth.  Now, I'm not saying I'd take illegal drugs...but... for some reason I tend to look at and focus on the negative side of things, seeing the glass half empty when it's really half full.

There are all sorts of satisfaction-enhancing systems, products and activities in our society today, all designed to make oneself happier.

Chocolate bars, according to one heart-disease-prevention website, can make both me and my heart happy.  Sounds like a fantastic form of therapy, doesn't it?  I've been taking this sort of medicine for years!

Exercise is scientifically proven to release endorphins which flood your body with both contentment and energy.  Check.

Starbucks is the "Queen" of coffee purveyors, promising to deliver caffeine (and sugar) "However you want it".  Good thing I own a Starbucks espresso machine, so I can find satisfaction without even leaving the comfort of my home.

Along this idea of pursuing joyfulness, I've made it a habit to become friends with bubbly people.  Sometimes you just need to hang out with a wild, rambunctious giggler who can find fun in every  moment.  Sounds a little like my husband, minus the giggling.

So I've tried the proper diet (chocolate and caffeine included), exercised, and surrounded myself with shiny, happy people.  Yet, where's the joy? Could it be that joy is something you cannot purchase, ingest or manufacture artificially?

This is not what I like to hear.  I'm naturally lazy.  I don't want to have to change myself - I'd prefer someone flips a switch and fixes my issues.  However, the idea of a happier, more joyful outlook entices me.  I'm listening... what should I do?

In my devotional this morning (which I read in the only private room of the house, if you can guess where that is) I learned how joy dwells inside of you, waiting for activation that only you can initiate.  So we're back to the fact that my emotional state is my responsibility and should not be determined by other people or my circumstances?  Groan.  Sigh.  Alright, let's continue.

I believe that joy, just like love and patience is primarily a choice.  Furthermore, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, so I would venture to say that we can draw upon joy in the same way we draw upon peace when life is confronting us with fear or discouragement.  I have long since learned the lesson of peace after many years fraught with emotional ups and downs that sprout from human existence in an imperfect world.  Peace, I've found, comes easily when you turn your situations and most of all your heart, over to God in utter dependence.  What about joy, then?

Joy is typically a product of gratefulness.  Joy comes from seeing the good, counting your blessings and cherishing the positive elements in your life.  Yet, there are times in life when nothing seems bright, you can't see the silver lining in the rainclouds and you lack the energy to even open your eyes and search for some sort of blessing to acknowledge.  When all else fails, and everything seems to SUCK, there's still a possibility for joy.  If joy comes from the Lord, and you've received Jesus into your life, then joy is accessible not by earthly means but is more spiritual in nature.

This may very well be as simple as saying (or singing) "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart... (WHERE?) Down in my heart... to stay.  And I'm so happy, so very happy, I've got the love of Jesus in my heart!"  Sounds ridiculous?  I don't think it is as childish as it seems.  This is the sort of joy that comes from the fact that Jesus loves me and accepts me with all my weird habits - like the fact that I always have to open chip bags from the bottom and I can't use a bathroom without drawing back the shower curtain (you never know if someone is hiding in there!).  Even the simple knowledge that He accepts me despite my faults is enough to spring a well of joy within my heart.  It's kind of like when you pick up your grubby, muddy toddler and he gives you a contagious belly laugh that warms you from head to toe - that is real, pure joy.  The sort of joy I'm talking about runs deep - deeper than your circumstances and hurts, discouragement and exhaustion.

Activate joy today.  You don't need money, honey or even your hunny to make you happy (ya, ya, that's pretty lame, I know!) - Just remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10)
Full of Joy...

1 comment:

kathywithkids said...

such a great reminder, thanks for your honest heart.