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 😊💟❤