I’ve blogged about this joy-versus-happiness thing before but I need to talk about this again.
Happiness is a feeling or emotion that ebbs and flows as you go through the highs and lows of your natural life. Obviously, we aren’t always happy. And thank goodness because we all need a dose of the sads to keep us humble, right? But more importantly, the beauty of our humanness is in experiencing the full spectrum of emotions we were built to endure. I won’t lie, I love the release of a full blown snot-inducing ugly cry now and again. Sometimes I secretly enjoy being miz and just climbing under my duvet and shutting everybody out. And let’s be honest, we all roll our eyes at the eternally happy colleague who skips down the corridors in the work place spreading sunshine wherever she goes.
However, joy springs from something deep inside of you. It starts off as a choice, and then burgeons into a belief. It is spurred on by faith and it is not moved by or dependent on circumstance. It is not dictated by your mood or your feelings or the number of snotty tears you cry. Joy remains unshakable in the wake of trials. Joy says I believe that even though this situation sucks right now, God is still the King of the world. He has overcome this. He is on the throne. Whether you like it or not, God’s Will, will be done. And God’s will is always good, is always favourable, is always blessing.
Let me give you an example of my own life right now, just in case Facebook or my Instagram feed has led you to believe that it’s all unicorns and sunbeams around here. My husband and I still argue and disagree on a plethora of things, we are not that couple who “turn the other cheek.” We are either in a silent treatment face-off or a battle of wills over who gets the last word (I win most times, just saying). Now while there is sadness and disappointment and a lack of respect in these moments, it doesn’t detract from the joy I feel every time I consider that this is MY man (Denzel Washington voice) until I die. My children never fail to confuse and upset me. With every age I’m more astounded at how much harder this parenting thing gets, I mean really can I get a break. I got called in for Liam’s behaviour the other day. Me? I never got called into the teacher’s office NOT ONCE while I was in school, but I’m getting called in for my spawn? NOT COOL. While Hannah has turned into an absolute dream of a child, truly she is my most favourite daughter, she is as volatile as a Slinky… can you say up and down? But with all the difficulties of parenthood, the inexplicable and constant joy I feel whenever I think about these two perfect children is just there. And then there’s the circumstances we face… we’re still in the process of finalising our house sale which means lots of money and lots of anxiety. Secondly, I called the school I had planned to enrol Hannah in for next year to be told that they are actually full, now what? If you know me, you’ll know that sorting out schools for my children has been a project I have dedicated myself to fully and to be rejected in this way was like a slap in the face. And then the daily stresses of life… when there’s more month than money, when your appliances all seem to die at the same time, when you’re drowning in the stress of trying to please all your friends. This may not be true for you, but it is highly stressful for me to try and fit everyone in. I have a guilt complex over trying to meet up with all the special people in my life. There’s the loss of a pet, the boy child who has regressed and cries at bedtime because he is scared of the dark, the point on your to-do list you forgot about and now your boss is pissed off. Guys, if we had to focus on the things that were wrong in our lives at any given moment, we would be truly doomed. I’ve seen people in the darkest of valleys these last few weeks. People who have lost loved ones, people who have been retrenched, people who are going through fires that you and I will never understand and I think to myself HOW do you move forward in the face of such adversity?
But then joy steps in. I don’t know where you find your joy, but I find mine in the Lord. I remain joyful and hopeful and reliant on the fact that I will not succumb to the injuries I face. That this season will pass, that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life (Ps23:6). I remain confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Ps 27:13). You see, joy transcends the here and now and looks forward to the future. It veils your eyes with wisdom enough to see through the pain you may be enduring. Joy is that thing that makes you laugh through your tears, it makes you expectant even when you’re all out of options in the natural, and it comes from a deep-seated knowledge that it isn’t over until God wins.