Joy doesn’t look like it used to. It doesn’t feel like I thought it would at this point in my life. Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize. Like, master-of-disguise, hiding under a bushel basket hard to recognize.
It used to be that when I thought of joy I thought BIG. Big feelings, big emotions, big life events. I associated joy with happiness, as most do.
But over the years, especially these past few, I’ve come to recognize joy as being about more than just happiness. Happiness is fleeting. It’s an emotion that’s easily changed as quickly as my circumstances. It’s a risky business, there one minute and gone the next.
Joy lasts. You can be joyful when you’re tired. When your back is aching. When you’ve just gotten terrible news. When you’re emotionally wrecked. When you’re lonely. When you’re angry. Through all these things, joy can be your constant companion. Because joy isn’t happiness. Joy is peace and abandonment and trust. It feels restful, even when life is hectic.
The word Joy gets thrown around a lot during the holiday season. It’s particularly common in advertisements for the latest product we’re being sold, or snappy one-liners in Christmas cards. Christmas joy is real, but we’re not going to find it at Target. (Unlike anything else you could ever possibly need, am I right?!)
My wish for all of us is true joy- joy that waits patiently, trusting in a will greater than ours, loving us wherever we are in our lives at this very moment. Sometimes that comes with warm feelings, a family gathered around the Christmas tree, and hot cocoa in our favorite mug. Sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes it won’t. Whatever it looks like for you this year, I hope you find it.