Joy is a stirring of the soul. It's something that makes you cry and love it, that makes you catch your breath and hold absolutely still for fear it will go away if you blink. It's something you can't plan to have, or hold on to more than it's season. It's the breath of God, that we only find when we let it sneak up on us, never when we seek it. It's something that breaks if you hold on too tightly.
First, to me there is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness (the non-Aristotle understanding) is the temporary focused on the present. Joy is focused on the whole; past, present and future. When I speak of joy I am thinking more of deep peace, shalom, being centered. Joy is that which at the core of me is at peace even when the present is in conflict. Like the buddhists describe it, joy is like a rock in a stream; storms and floods may come as well as still water and lazy days, but the rock does not move and lives through it all without complaint. To me, joy then is that which I place my hope in above whatever my present situation may offer. Joy comes from the Lord.
For me a simple answer is seeing how joy can flow out of gratitude. When we look around us at the smallest things God gives us to the most amazing (like people in our lives) and take the time and effort to thank Him my whole attitude changes. Works for me (sometimes).- Al
Thanks y'all. I think everyone feels joy in different ways. I think that it's something in my bones. It's something I've never had before. Having joy doesn't mean I don't have to face reality, and all the shit it brings, but having joy gets me through it all. Fear and pain don't diminish me when I have joy.
I just came across this book by J. Ruth Gendler called 'the book of Qualities' and in it she personifies about 80 qualities all nice and poetic like. Here is her blurb on joy which I enjoy!
"Joy drinks pure water. She has sat with the dying and attended many births. She denies nothing. She is in love with life, all of it, the sun and the rain and the rainbow. She rides horses at Half Moon Bay under the October moon. She climbs mountains. She sings in the hills. She jumps from the hot spring to the cold stream without hesitation.
Although joy is spontaneous, she is immensely patient. She does not need to rush. She knows that there are obstacles on every path and that every moment is the perfect moment. She is not concerned with success or failure or how to make things permanent.
At times joy is elusive- she seems to disappear even as we approach her. I see her standing on a ridge covered with oak trees, and suddenly the distance between us feels enormous. I am overwhelmed and wonder if the effort to reach her is worth it. Yet, she waits for us. Her desire to walk with us is as great as our longing to accompany her."
Joy. Would you not agree that joy may happen upon some as an outside boundary rather than a central factor? Some may experience joy on certain occasions in which it would not last beyond their next trial. The opposite of joy, which is sorrow, then becomes the central focus and the joy becomes peripheral. When the meaning of life has been addressed and diligently sought after, joy will remain everlasting, producing perpetual jubilee and then sorrow becomes peripheral.
I believe joy is a choice we make each day to have it or not. There is very little in life that we really have control over but our emotions we can make conscious decisions to have a good attitude or not.
Thanks so much to everybody who opened themselves up and shared their thoughts on joy.
My friend Jesse and I gave a sermon together on joy. All of your ideas and perspectives helped me look at all aspects of joy, and got me motivated to do the sermon. These are my notes from the sermon. I want you all to know that you are apart of this. Thank you.
We did a worship service a few months ago on Campus. We alternated between some super up-beat praise songs and then in between them we watched two music videos, one was All I Need MTV Version From Radiohead, which highlights child labor in south east asia. The other was Ain't No Reason by Brett Dennen, which clearly depicts the gap between how we live and how it impacts people. The songs we sang were about God's goodness. I think this service hit me hard. Students responded to it. I think it perfectly demonstrated finding joy in God even when the crap all around us screams so loudly. I think that's the funny thing about joy, it's one of those things that you can hold on to in the midst of pain. It doesn't just go away. I think what hit's me about joy is it's lasting power.
“There is plenty of courage among us for the abstract but not for the concrete.” - Helen Keller
“Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being "drawn toward." Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one's friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk.” - Carter Heyward