Joy. What goes through your mind when you read that word? Did you nod your head and smile with the thought of the overflowing joy you have in your heart and life? Or did you shake your head and say to yourself, I wish had some of that!
Joy. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as a “feeling of great happiness.” Not just your usual happiness, mind you, but “great” happiness. And they define happy as “feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.; or showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.” It’s something we seem to long for and often find evasive. If we find it, we want to hang onto it, which evidently isn’t easy to do. Even King David cried out to God to restore to him the joy of his salvation. The kind of joy that makes you breathless and giddy. The kind of joy that prompted my cousin to say, “Even the air smells different!” at the moment she surrendered to God and He penetrated her heart.
But, eventually, life, your circumstances or others can suck the joy right out of you. Or is it you letting those circumstances and people steal it from you? Certainly heart-crushing grief can deplete and smother it. That’s understandable. But a lot of us, especially in the developed Western world—where we really do have life too easy and often have too much time on our hands and waste time sitting around comparing ourselves to others, wishing we had what they had, and convincing ourselves that no one has ever had it as bad as we do and that nobody understands our pain, etc.—find joy elusive, even though we’ve had it before and know how to get it back. (How’s that for a run-on sentence of complaints?)
But it’s not necessarily just joy recovery that I want to address today, although that is a by-product of following through on the advice another writer gives in a post I’ll be providing a link to.
What I want to address today is the effect our joyless lives, attitudes and demeanors have on our family and friends, or even those we just happen to come into contact with on a daily basis. They can become the collateral damage of your joyless attitude.
I have a friend who is angry about life. I can tell this person is angry and joyless just from the attitude they have toward everyone—family members, and even strangers. And that attitude threatens to suck the joy out of everyone who comes in contact with them.
In this post I’ve linked to, you’ll read about how one woman’s lack of joy affected her children. Sadly, I can relate. I remember the time my older son (who was probably ten at the time) bounced happily out to the kitchen one morning to bless me with a cheery good morning and a beatific smile. He had always been a smiley, “Wow-it’s-a-new-day-and-isn’t-life-great” kind of kid, even from birth, and that morning was no different.
And how did I respond? I greeted him with some ridiculously harsh, snappy comment like “Did you make your bed yet?” I can only imagine the look on my face when I spat out the question. And I can still hear and see his response. His smile withered in a split second, and was replaced by a pained expression. His shoulders slumped, and I can still hear the words he mumbled as he turned and started back toward his bedroom: “Why did I even get out of bed this morning!?”
That vision of my son still breaks my heart. I was suffering from frustration and joylessness in my life at that time, and I took it out on him. And, I’m sure, nearly everyone around me, which certainly didn’t do anything to help my joyless life become more joyful. It just made everyone want to avoid me. It would take gratitude, a lot of prayer and a change of attitude to correct it.
And it still takes a change of attitude—and behavior—because I still struggle with moments of joyless living. But, after years of experience, there are two things I do when joylessness strikes: First, I look to the heavens and say, “Oh, Lord, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. And then I smile in gratitude, because I know He’s faithful, and He’ll answer that prayer.
Because a joyful life is part of His plan for his children. And in His presence, there is a fullness of it!
Next week: Does God want you to be happy?
You bet He does!
Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/42246573@N00/8620156555">Eggs in bowties</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>