My Kids Taught Me The Key to Joy

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"My kids taught me the key to joy" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2018 Melanie Jean Juneau. All rights reserved.

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” –St. Gianna Beretta Molla

As I raised a large family on a small farm with little disposable income, I received free Christian cognitive therapy. It was my children who taught me how to live in the present moment with joy. I couldn’t help but learn how to live a child of God because I was surrounded by a crew of little people who greeted each morning with wonder and awe.

Gratefulness is the key to spiritual joy, no matter how little we think we have in the eyes of modern society. In fact, St. Teresa of Avila once said she “thanked God for the things she did NOT own.” St. Teresa always stressed the need for gratitude: “In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.”

When Joy Eludes Us

The fleeting dream which eludes many of us is happiness, never mind joy. Most of us tend to run around, miserable in our insular little worlds, only catching glimpses of the world around us through dung-colored glasses.
The solution to our dilemma is easy.
Stop.
Look.
Appreciate.
A therapist would charge you hundreds of dollars to teach you how to do this, calling this method cognitive therapy. I will give you this key to real spiritual joy for free.
I discovered this secret after years of mothering my tiny children. They taught me to take my eyes off my exhaustion and to take delight in the plethora of tiny details all around me. Little kids are born with a sense of wonder and the ability to discover joy in little things. My daughters retain an appreciation for detail; they all remember the little things.

Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
( 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 )

A friend of mine once asked Mary, when she was about six, what she liked most about Christmas. She replied immediately, “The pineapple.”

My daughter’s answer astounded Martha.
Similarly, one evening before dinner Allison now a young adult, said, “I always remember the fresh smell of clean sheets every week.” Such a small thing, yet a child, with a heart full of gratitude, takes great pleasure from it.
A few years ago, one daughter was recounting how pleased she was with a plant in her garden. Realizing she was enjoying such a small thing she laughed, “Oh no, I sound just like Mum.”

The things that raise my spirits are usually small and most people would not consider them significant. For example, one Christmas I was very tired and only one gift brought me genuine joy. It was hand-crocheted dishcloths from my friend Cathy … dishcloths, beautifully made, colorful, something I used a hundred times a day.

Perhaps this is one of the blessings of a large family; free cognitive therapy from a crew of little people who greeted each morning with wonder, awe and joy.

Copyright 2018 Melanie Jean Juneau

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

2 Comments

  1. Marilee Haynes on

    I really enjoyed this! Although I only have three children, each has shown me how to appreciate and find joy – and peace – in the little things. Baking cookies, taking a walk, the smell of spring, reading together – the little things ARE big things to them!
    Thank you for the cognitive therapy refresh this busy morning!

    • You mention lovely examples of how children delight in the little things. While reading your comment, it suddenly occurred to me that kids are not obsessed with status, efficiency or garnering approval from others and so are free to enjoy God’s gifts. Thank you for refreshing ME.

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