Joy is importantly different from mere pleasure.
Joy has in it the real recognition of the contrasts and depths and problems of life.
Joy is an act of courage because it can carry you through anxieties and sorrow.
– Claudia Lady Bird Johnson,
Remarks at the Congressional Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., February 1, 1967
William O. Foss, First Ladies Quotations Book
Part of letting go of suffering, letting go of old angers and bitterness, and working toward forgiveness is taking joy where you can find it. I agree with Mrs. Johnson, that joy is an act of courage.
Case in point, I love chocolate in almost any form. I can drink it, eat it, slurp it – and it brings me pleasure. But it doesn’t bring me joy.
Even in my darkest hours, when the Abyss looms large on the horizon or my poor decisions have driven me to distraction and anxiety I am still able to find joy in this world if I look for it and am open to it.
For years I didn’t know how to do this and if I experienced joy it only served to remind me that I was otherwise miserable. But now, through God’s Grace, I have learned to take my joy where I can find it, hold on and savor it and let it carry me through to the other side of the pain I am experiencing.
If you’re looking for it, joy can be found in the smallest, overlooked things – like a bird going in and out of a nest busy feeding hungry chicks, the games my furchildren play with me and with each other, the luminescent beauty of the sun shining through a freshly bloomed flower or the smell of rain on hot asphalt in the summer. These small, seemingly insignificant things bring me joy – and joy gives me the courage to keep going each day, sometimes hour by hour, moment by moment.
Take heart – joy is there for you if you want it and look for it. One of the beautiful qualities of joy is that it is different for each of us and if you ask to see the joy around you, you will see it. What others see as annoying or an eyesore, it will be a joy to you because the God of All Joy knows exactly what you need to bring you courage. Savor that moment of joy as a gift and let it carry you for a while. It’s okay to put your burden down for a few moments. It will be there when you return and it might even be a little lighter.