I was once asked in a seminar: If there was one gift that I could give all of mankind, what would it be? It took me several minutes to figure out what that would be. As my contribution to mankind, I wanted to give joy. Joy makes everything better. It is a happy heart. It is enthusiastic. It gives hope. It makes the unbearable circumstances more bearable. I firmly believe that God has set aside certain periods of darkness for us as individuals. This is a darkness that the saints have talked about. They felt lonely, and they did not feel the presence of God many times. They had doubts and fears. They had ailments and accusations against them.
These are the times that cry out of extraordinary character. They call for prayer and faith. They call for friends and support systems. There are more sinister reasons for your joy to be stolen. These are the things you must beware of.
I am typically a very joyful person. I laugh a lot! I smile a lot. I have lots of energy and enthusiasm. But circumstances in the past couple of months threatened that joy and affected me on all levels. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t interested in the things that normally make me laugh. I wasn’t smiling because the sun was shining. My desire to praise God was not bubbling at the surface. I was barely squeaking by. I didn’t feel like the same person. It seemed that I had lost my joy-filled essence. Once I realized this was the case, I examined all the culprits and made a plan to get my joy back!
I took active measures for self-care. In addition to all the physical things I needed to concentrate on to ensure my best possible mental and physical health, I started pleading with God to restore my joy. Just like faith, joy is a gift from God. It is not a given. Just because I had actively enjoyed joy throughout my life did not mean that it was mine permanently. I had taken that joy for granted.
At first I just tried to reason with myself. I told myself, “You have so many reasons to be happy. You have so much going for you.” But that wasn’t enough. This was not a problem of logic or math. I believe this was a spiritual challenge. God wanted me to recognize that joy is a gift from Him and He wanted me to ask for it.
I took the challenge and started to ask for joy. I knew that God wanted me also to write about this quest for joy. I started with the usual things, like looking at my life and appreciating all the wonderful aspects and gifts that I have. That alone was not sufficient. That again was a logical approach. I spoke to a therapist about it and we discussed the physiological reasons I had for lack of joy. This was the scientific approach. All reasons for the lack were valid, but my goal was to get my joy BACK!
“So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” (John 16:22)
I am still in the process of getting my joy back, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I had to create and foster a place for joy to again reside, and then I needed to pray for it. I have had glimmers and sparkles of the joy in my mind, body and heart. The road to joy for me is to take care of myself as best I can, and to continue to seek joy, that inner sparkle.
In seeking joy, I seek the creator of joy, and the giver of joy. I apologize for taking it for granted, and appreciate that this joy is what enables me to weather through tough times with a smile on my face. Joy helps me appreciate and praise God in a more beautiful and profound way.
I had a crazy week filled with unexpected sudden blows, extra work to untangle knots created by others, and thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses. Through it all, I had that small glimmer of hope that justice would prevail. At one point, even that candle was blown out. I felt crushed for a minute. I felt disregarded and forgotten. I cried out to God. My husband and I made a decision to persevere and push forward for justice. We made some difficult and expensive decisions. After almost a full week of trials and worry, the dark cloud lifted to show that indeed tomorrow may be much brighter.
We still have to deal with many consequences and fallout, but we can see beyond that. Even though it appears justice failed us, we must see beyond that. We must focus on the fact that dark times will not last forever. We must focus on the fact that saints focused on perfecting their good character and not letting the dark times get the best of them.
We will forget these dark times, and we will rejoice again! I look forward to my brighter tomorrow as I write. I will continue to ask God for the gift of joy. This candle of joy will brighten not only my world but all that I also touch. Last night, laughing with my children at dinner was the most joy-filled I had felt in a long time. A nod and thanks be to God!
Copyright 2019 Marya Hayes