“May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13
Where does your joy ultimately come from? I think we often times get the meaning of joy and happiness confused. Happiness comes when something is fulfilled or brings us gratification and pleasure. Like all emotions, happiness is fleeting and temporary. It’s based on how we’re feeling in that moment and based around our circumstances and thoughts. But never ending joy comes from God. Nothing in our life is constant or forever reliable except for the truth of God. I find joy that no matter what I’ve done or what I will do in the future I am still enough, I’m still loved, and I am still saved. There is nothing that will change that.
When I was in Middle School I started going to a girl’s cadre group. We would meet once a week at Starbucks or someone’s house and we had an older leader provide insight on some spiritual life advice- I guess you could call it. A few weeks ago I was organizing my things and came across an old journal. It was an old journal that I used in those cadre groups to take notes. Even though that group quickly fell apart, there was one lesson that stuck in my heart forever. And I looked back on those notes about joy and happiness. It took me a long time to really understand what it meant to be constantly joyful even when I was feeling inadequate or depressed inside.
Let me just say that whoever is close to me knows that 2015 was NOT my year. I mean a few good things came out of it, I did get baptized not only by water but also by the Holy Spirit. My best friend got married and I got to be a part of the wedding (super cute wedding btw), and I also graduated High School. But in all honestly that whole year pretty much was empty. Or the way I felt inside, well there was not much joy to be found. And I don’t feel like getting into that necessarily right now. But I am happy to say that I feel a billion times better and more positive this 2016 new year.
Joy vs Happiness
So coming out of a slump of a year. Not knowing who I really was. Letting myself be confined to a small box and not really living. Trying to live up to other people’s standards rather than my own or shall I say God’s. I wasn’t getting anywhere. God really put it on my heart to start thinking about where does my joy come from?
I promise you that if you put your joy solely in other people, your heart will get heartbroken. If you rely on your happiness to come from your circumstances, a dark storm will come at some point and you will be left shattered. If you follow what the world says to do in order to be happy, well it will feel good for a little while. That’s why we chase pleasure and instant gratification. But eventually those things will leave you feeling empty.
So I decided to constantly choose joy in every day life. Every day I choose to focus on becoming a better human being, to see the happiness in little things, and constantly remind myself how blessed I am. Even when I have a bad day, even when everything that could go wrong does, even when I’m incredibly hurt, even when I’m insecure, even when I’m torn apart, even when I don’t have money for coffee (jokes..but for real though!), at the end of the day I am still joyful. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Just as every storm in the past has gone away, so will this one eventually! And even though this life is hard and the world is cold, God still loves me so much. He still thinks I am worthy to be saved. And he is complete love and truth.
Happiness is an emotion that feels pretty darn good! I’m happy that we are not necessarily happy all the time. If that even makes sense…you see happiness is like a little extra spark or boost. When I drink a yummy cup of coffee, I’m happy. When a boy is nice to me, I’m really happy. When I am laughing my tummy off, I am utterly happy! When something wonderful and surprising happens, well then I’m extra happy! Those little boosts are awesome and what make life worth while and interesting. But happiness comes and goes just as the rest of all the emotions that a human being experiences.
I can’t pretend that I am constantly smiling or upbeat all day long. I am a human as I said before. And I have emotions! In fact I took a personality test in my Interpersonal Communications class which classifies me as an ENFJ personality type. F is for feelings! And that’s me, I feel it all and I think about it all day long. Are you sad? I’m sad? Are you happy? I’m happy. Basically. Some days I am too tired to wake up. Sometimes I feel deeply hurt by a betrayal of another person. Life is hard and it doesn’t get any easier just by being a Christian. But I have come to accept that life is hard but also beautiful because of Christ. So those days, weeks, maybe even years that I feel inadequate inside, I let myself feel my emotions and realize that I have a right to them. But I do not let myself be controlled by emotions that are as fleeting as the wind. And I don’t let myself be utterly consumed by them to the point they control my life in a negative way. I cry it out, I sing it out, I talk it out, I drink a good cup of coffee, and most importantly I pray it out!! And I know that I am okay, and I am joyful.
This life is short. But God’s love is eternal, his grace is overflowing, and living in Paradise with him trumps over anything in this life. I choose joy in this. I hope you do too.