A cousin recently posted a message of comfort to a friend on Facebook. He quoted the Bible, specifically a portion of a sentence from John 16:22, when he wrote, “…no one will take away your joy.” Over morning coffee, I wrote to my cousin that this was a very nice sentiment, but an impractical thought. I had been deliberating how to manage a difficult situation and was further frustrated with someone’s obstinacy to embrace the larger picture. I spent the remains of morning completing tasks related to the matter at hand while I reflected with cynicism on the quote from John. I did not realize that later that day, I would find joy despite the reality of dealing with a certain kind of long-term hardship.
That afternoon, my four-year-old son waited on me at school. His face brightened when I entered the room and he held up his arms. His soft skin, with its still-a-baby scent, comforted me as I carried him to the car. Up to that point, I had been burdened with stress, but suddenly, I told him that he was my joy, and no one would take my joy from me. After school, we stole a few minutes at a café together. He shared his muffin by breaking off dime-sized portions. My son, who was once known for his pervasive disobedience and defiance, has become my joy. While I love all my children (if I can so loosely include in that definition my husband’s grown girls), there is something unique in the spirit of my son. He is Mommy’s Tiny. He dances with delight when I enter the room. This, I embrace blissfully, and all burden seems lifted; raising him is a gift. As part of this immeasurable gift, my son has taught me about how to forgive (topic for another blog post) and how to be thankful.
My father once told me that there is a difference between joy and happiness. Joy, he said, is a continuous state. It is knowing that you do the right and honorable thing, that you live by acts of goodness, that you embrace selfless love in others and yourself. Happiness, he continued, is temporary. Happiness is fleeting, is an emotion, and is dependent on circumstances. At the time he had told me this, I was not quite willing to accept his idea, but the concept gave me courage and faith. I have drawn upon this conversation frequently since those turbulent days.
So today, I embrace joy. I am joyful despite fear, frustration, need, and even doubt. The full quote from John is this: So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
There may be readers here who could benefit from this today. If so, I send you blessings and wishes for mercy and compassion. May you choose to find joy.