Happiness fades with the sunset, but joy is everlasting as the sun. What is the difference between joy and happiness? Happiness is like a drug, it feels good when you’ve got the high, but it is not long lasting, it is not sustaining; it is circumstantial.
Joy, on the other hand, is a state of being. Joy is a way of life. Joy is a choice. Joy, like the sun, is always there and warms you whether or not you always see it or feel it. You choose to believe in it’s power, in it’s existence. Joy is a fruit of the spirit.
When life brings you down, when the bills come due and the bank account is dwindling towards empty — happiness fades. When a friend promises to be there for you and the phones lies silent on the desk — happiness fades. When the MRI report reads possible sarcoma and you can’t breathe — happiness fades. What then? What sustains you? Joy. You persevere with joy as your guiding light.
There have been times in my life when choosing joy was not an easy task. After just reading through some of my posts from my old blog when I was in Spain, especially the second post following the first time my classmate raped me…just re-reading that post reminds me of how lost I was. I started to question what I wanted to do with my life, what my goals were, who I wanted to be, and who I was. I was feeling empty and void. I was struggling to find my purpose, and definitely my joy.
I was robbed of my happiness and I let my joy be stolen from me. I had become a shell of a being. For three months I walked those city streets of that tiny coastal town in Denia, Spain: empty, void. No joy. I let it escape me. I did not pursue it. Looking back, I think I found happiness in simple things: the Mediterranean coast, the cafe con leche, the siestas in the afternoon where I would take 2-3 hour naps in my cozy bed. But I let joy escape my grasp and did not make it a priority.
Choose joy. I had to choose joy. I had to wake up every morning and make a conscious choice to choose joy. Upon my return to Grand Rapids, I met with my counselor and processed through my experiences and my emotions and my feelings of shame. I began to learn how to live life again, to choose life again, and to ultimately choose joy.
That lesson has helped me time and time again. It helped me when I was un-diagnosed with bipolar disorder and taken off my meds, when the mania struck, when I was hospitalized (twice), and when life took a downward spiral. Joy is hard to grasp when life is at its seemingly worst. But that’s when you must hold on the tightest. Joy sustains. Joy uplifts. Hold on tight. Life is a wild ride and joy is a great companion.
Cheers to joy.