What gives you joy or drains your joy? Curiously, Ingrid F Lee in her TED Talk, “Where joy hides and how to find it” cites from scientific research, that ‘circles’ and ‘curves’ give us humans more joy than other shapes, while ‘jaggy edged’ objects have the opposite effect. She asks, if joy is so important to us, why do we surround ourselves with architecture, décor, workspace and things that drain joy? Considering what clutter to hitch, stitch or ditch, Marie Kondo suggests THE deciding question is, “Does it spark joy?” If not, let it go!

What brings you joy?  Finding a perfect gift for someone, receiving something special, cycling or hiking through beautiful countryside, scoring (or watching) an exquisite goal, meeting a new friend, baking or tasting something sensational?

What drains your joy? The Dementors ‘scurry, worry, hurry & flurry’, incessant media bad news, personal perfectionist tendencies, negative: people, ideas, memories or self-image, which hang over and follow you like a travelling fog?

There’s an unrealistic ‘no-problem’ mindset that rarely allows sorrow and sadness in, and an intense pseudo-spirituality, which lives in a constant ‘plastic smile’ JOY, unable to admit or accept that bad things happen to good people. Sadness, Sorrow and Lament are vital emotions given to help us process life’s awful and grim realities. We can deny our pain for a while, but eventually we will need to try and work through the grief that loss brings (e.g. loss of: innocence, integrity, loved ones, ability). Bury Sorrow and it’s likely to bite us on the bum and become an emotional monster rising within, which is hard to understand or tame. But JOY is the other side of the coin called SORROW, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)

The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope–and the hope that has become our joy does not (as happiness must for those who depend up on it) disappoint us.” –Walter Wangerin Jr.

Joy spontaneously comes from the inside, while happiness is based on external circumstances. We are made for ‘something more’ and JOY, a fruit of God’s Spirit, is a daily gift we can receive or reject. Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) and St Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I’ll say it again, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Finding ourselves inside Jesus’ Big Picture and Purpose of Love, which can reach down into the depths of our pain and sorrow and raise us up into newness of life, even eternal life, encourages us to daily look for and practice JOY. How deprived we would be without JOY! Seeking JOY is wanting more of JESUS. Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in-between.

CS Lewis, philosopher and author of the children’s Narnia Stories, described his conversion to Christ: ‘Surprised by Joy’. Loathed to heed his hunch, he was drawn to accept the JOY that Jesus wanted him to have.

 

Friends, JOY is both a Gift and a Choice – ENJOY! (literally ‘IN-JOY)