Is joy a feeling? Is it the stirring in my heart at the sight of someone precious to me? Or is it something willed? Is joy the smile I consciously put on like another piece of clothing, choosing to wear it on days when nothing inclines me to that stirring in my soul? I know how to pretend joy—know all about that forced and cheery upper lip, stiff with one “It’ll be fine” after another. I am so tired, too, of all the constant self-criticism of “what do I really have to be sad about?”
I wish I never had time to ask that question, or that it never entered my mind in the first place. I think I am so busy asking that question, wallowing deeper and deeper in a mire of abstract self-critique and self-absorption—so absorbed in my worries that I never consider asking “What can I thank God for? What can I rejoice in?”
Let’s be blessedly practical for a minute, here.
I am clearly told I should be anxious for nothing, but rather I am to present every request to God, with thanksgiving and in a spirit of prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6;).
How familiar those words are.
Oh, Jo, when will you learn?
When will you learn that it does no good to hold on, whiteknuckled, to what you thought and what you wanted? It helps no one, least of all you. Yet I desire more than resignation; I would feel that stirring in my soul when I consider the will of God, whatever it looks like.
I want to be content in every situation in which God puts me, yes; but more than that, I yearn to be the sort of person who rejoices—really rejoices—in what she has been given. I’ve less of a use for Stoicism as a way of looking at the world. I crave hope.
I crave hope.
The willed kind of joy is the best I can come up with on my own—I know of no other source for real and lasting joy than in the person of Jesus Christ.
And I am so prone to forgetting.
Hey, friend, let’s remind each other. Thank you for reading.