Joy tends to get confused with ephemeral happiness, times of being satiated with life’s good things and satisfied with the current state of play. I think it’s so much more than that.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family, hooked on false bonhomie. Socialising and partying were their forte. It might have looked joyful to the untrained eye but I was aware of dark undercurrents beneath the surface.
Life’s challenges were swept aside for a while to maintain a pretence of everything being fine. As long as they both caressed cigarettes between their fingertips and had a drink (or several) to drown their sorrows, then they could ignore their strained, broken relationship, the anger that seethed beneath the surface.
Their outward appearance of joy didn’t fool me at all. My childhood was painful. I experienced rejection, neglect, emotional and sexual abuse and a lifelong conviction I was unwanted, insufficient and unloved for who I really was.
My own name felt like a cosmic joke, a label I failed to live up to, crushed as I became by my circumstances. But God intervened when I was in my late teens. He lifted me out of my sad introspection and into the warmth of His loving embrace.
I encountered unconditional love, grace to begin again and spiritual joy. Jesus captivated my heart and soul. He gave me a clean heart, every reason to live a life of purpose and an ability to rise above the pain of my past.
It was no overnight transformation. I have had to learn how to do those things over many years of struggle, failing and trying again by His mercy and grace. God is still teaching me to seek my joy primarily in Him. And to discover delight in my daily life. I believe God wants to draw you and me into a spacious place. A place of freedom and liberty, even if we are constrained by our circumstances or health problems.
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” ~ Psalm 18:19 NIV
Joy can become our heart’s default resting position rather than a rarity that vanishes before we’ve barely registered its presence. It’s not about living in a spiritual bubble but holding our hands wide open to receive. And then to freely share what we have been given.
Joy can be found most of all in life’s simple pleasures, especially if we train ourselves to notice. If we open the eyes of our heart and mind, I believe God will reveal where and how joy can be found, because joy makes us feel good to be alive.
If you’ve had serious setbacks, live with chronic illness, depression, or other mental health problems, then experiencing joy might seem unlikely to you. That’s why we need each other. We can stir one another to conscious awareness of joy’s presence.
I need you, my friend. Left to my own devices, I quickly forget the good things and dwell too long on the hard. I invite you to share your story/tips, either briefly in the comments below or maybe as a future guest writer if you’re a blogger. If you feel led to contribute in that way, please drop me a line via the contact page here. Thanks!
I sense God asking me to open up this topic again because joy was meant to be my focus word for 2018, before it became sidelined by my long health relapses. Now we begin again. 🌸💜🌈
My joy shots list
- rain drenching dry ground
- feeling comfortable instead of boiling hot
- listening to birdsong
- tomato plants changing colour
- friends getting in touch
- poetry singing in my soul
- better sleep and focus
- less pain – hooray!
- watching films, snuggled up with my man
- energy enough to write this post
I am also overjoyed to be making a slow return to blogging! God willing, new posts will appear every 2-4 weeks, while I’m still recovering my strength. I really appreciate your grace and prayers. Your faithful support gives me great joy as well. xo 😊💟❤
I am so happy to see you back here again! And what a blessing to find you sharing tidbits of JOY this month. I too want to look for those moments of joy in the midst of heaviness. It’s so easy to focus on the weight of the trial, and then to miss the gifts that are still sprinkled throughout my days. Just this morning I had my coffee on the deck and found a beautiful morning glory glowing in the sun. If I had stayed inside as originally planned (since it’s the day after a shot,) I would have missed that tidbit of JOY. 🙂 God is so good to see what we need, isn’t He? Oh that I would listen to Him more readily. I am praying for continued refreshing for you, dear friend! Blessings, love, and hugs to you! xoxo
Dear Bettie, thank you for the warm welcome back! I’m so glad to have joy as my focus again. We definitely benefit from looking for joy within “the midst of heaviness.” Your quietly thankful morning sounds lovely. I hope and pray the hospital appointment went well and hasn’t exhausted you too much. May we both receive the deep soul refreshment we crave! Blessings, love and hugs to you too. xoxo 😊💜
It brings me joy to read your words! Though I am going through a quiet season computer-wise, you remain in my prayers each day. Gentle Blessings to you, Joy!
Dear Cheryl Anne, it brings me joy to know you are praying for me. Thank you so much! I can relate to the “quiet time computer-wise” because that’s still the case for me. May it yield beautiful fruit as you withdraw from online busyness and spend quality time with the Lord. Sending love, hugs, blessings and prayers for deeper rest and strengthening for you. xo 💜
I love your joy shots and this encouragement to seek our joy in Jesus! That past can weigh so heavily, can’t it? Thank you for stirring me to a more conscious awareness of joy’s presence, if we open our eyes and hearts to it more. May God fill you with rest in body, mind, and soul! Love and hugs to you, dear Joy!
Oh good! I love that you love those things, Trudy. Yes, our past can feel like a ball and chain weighing us down. It’s one we carry around so much we barely register the way it holds us back, unless it gives a reminder tug. But thanks be to God, we don’t have to live like that any more. I’m so thankful for your understanding and your eagerness to join me on the journey toward greater measures of wholeness, healing and joy. Rest is an essential component, I find, because I can soon become ratty and irritable when I am overtired and extra fatigued. Thankfully, our mood tends to lift when the sun shines brightly and we feel less weary. May we both bask in the light of God’s love for us and His willingness to offer us joy and freedom from a painful past! Love and hugs to you too, dear friend. xo 🙂 ❤