Finding joy. If only it were that simple, to look around and find joy like a lost earring on the floor in the closet or a forgotten five-dollar bill in the pocket of your jeans.
But we don’t find joy. It’s not been lost. In fact, it is already given to us; it’s the presence of God in and around us at all times – whether we “feel” it or not.
We have to remember it, hold it dear and live it out.
Often joy and happiness are compared. To me, happiness is a feeling and Joy is a truth. In my experience, the people that I’ve seen who are doing everything they can to make themselves happy are just about the most miserable.
With that in mind at the beginning of the holiday season, I made a choice to encourage and guide my family toward Joy, not happiness. So I gathered the fam, my hubby, Ron and kids, Josh (17) and Addy (14) and we agreed that we were going to discover the Joy within us through giving our lives away this season. So each weekend we’ve donated time to others.
Now, was my family super excited about this phenomenal gift I was giving to them? No. Was I? Not really.
I love to help others but I also really love to sleep in. So there’s that. Nonetheless, I felt the only way to salvage some of the sadness surrounding the season due to restrictions and closures and health concerns, was to go ALL IN on giving what we could.
There’s a great quote from Jerry Sittser… it’s based on situations of grief, but I find it applicable to any situation that feels uncomfortable or difficult.
“The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”
In other words, when we rest in affliction, we will find comfort and growth more readily than if we try and chase it down by avoiding things that challenge us. So, serving it was! And what do you know… Joy was found!
We laughed together as my husband buried us with his speed in sandwich-making during Salvation Army meal prep. Next, my son commented that it was more fun than he expected when he saw how excited the kids got about the “snow” while serving at the Kids Ministry Cookies & Milk drive thru event. And then my daughter felt a sense of purpose in staining wood for beds that would one day hold kids who may be hurting when she joined the Build Day for Love Your Neighbor in preparing Bunk Beds for kids in need in our community.
We’ll finish off our stint of serving this coming weekend by serving foster kids with gifts at a drive thru experience and taking items to the Salvation Army & Arc for donation. These were moments of Joy, sparks of love for others, times for hope in our world and feelings of peace in our hearts.
Shops are closed. Experiences are cancelled. School is wacky. Sports are on hold. But Joy. Joy does not cease. If we don’t let it.
“I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”
– 2 Corinthians 7:4