Sunday, January 22, 2012

Understanding Joy

Words have meaning. Some might have the same definition but they vary in shades of strength. I'm almost obsessed with trying to find the exact word to say what it is I really want to say.

And so, today when a friend said that she had no joy in her life, I was stunned.

"No Joy? Really?" I asked, more than a little concerned.

She didn't understand my reaction and started explaining how the past few days had been a struggle. Her car had broken down, money was tight, and the dog was sick. The kids were cranky, and the call from the principal about sent her over the edge. I could see the worry, dread, even anger in her expression. But as she talked about her children, including principle boy, her eyes sparkled like diamonds on brown velvet.

That's when it occurred to me that she had used the wrong word. While the past week had moments of unhappiness and stress, joy was still very much apart of her life.  

Weddings, birthdays, a new job, bonus checks ... all of these things might bring a feeling of happiness, but that is an emotion brought on by the circumstances of our lives. It is short lived and can leave as quickly as it comes. On the other hand, joy is deeply embedded in faith and love. It's an attitude ... a choice. Nothing can steal your joy unless you allow it.

I believe joy is one of the greatest gifts given to man. It's what allows us to find peace in the darkest hours of our lives. It's why we laugh as memories bubble up at a loved one's wake, or why someone can smile in the face of financial ruin. 

And so, when you are in the midst of a crisis, stop and reflect. You might not feel "happy" about whatever it is, but at least you know that the joy in your life will see you through.