The Joyful Life
I believe there is a small inkling of a higher way which most ignore when thinking of ‘the good life.’ Most assume that life is a strict progression of choice to consequence, but within the area of Christian thinking, there is the extra dimension of the spiritual realm. This is the dimension of the unseen, and it is the unseen rather than what can be seen, which is capable of making life “good.” Because God is my unseen source, life can be not only “good,” it can be better. I call this better life: joyful.
What does it mean to be joyful, exactly? To understand joy, first we have to understand happiness. People often mistake happiness for joy. The difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is an emotion: a temporary feeling of euphoria or delight, while joy is a decision to delight in one’s current situation regardless of whether they feel happy, assuming joy is preferable to happiness. Without some sort of outside source of delight, finding joy in life at any time is quite hard. Because I have God as my source, I always have the ability to draw delight from him and from being with him. I can choose to delight in God; this allows me to experience joy regardless of my current situation.
Choosing joy over happiness is a major tripping point. We find happiness all around us. We can delight in nature, in people, in companionship. The key for the Christian mind is to remember that human-created happiness or “good,” cannot compare with God-given happiness or “good.” Human-created good cannot fill up empty hearts with any lasting joy or fulfillment. It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in one’s soul which fills us up with joy. The mind chooses to accept the Spirit, and the heart learns to love it. With the Spirit inside us, finding joy in life is truly possible.
I have the Spirit inside me, so I can find joy. Where do I find it? I have found it in the complexity of God’s creation. There is joy in chasing sunsets, dancing in the rain, staring at stars, laughing until you collapse – I see God in these things, and take delight in them. There is joy to be gained from gazing at intense beauty. Beauty springs from sunsets, from rain showers, from the heavens, and I revel in it. God shows me beauty in so many ordinary things, and in extraordinary things. My favorite source of joy is the beauty I see in other people. This beauty is not just because of their physical features, or even in their character, or the way they act. It is the deepest, rarest, most precious beauty of the inmost parts of the soul, and I get to see it.
God has blessed me with this amazing gift. He shows me the beauty of others and puts words in my mouth to tell them about it. When you search another’s soul, the very core of their being, it is an incredible experience; I am filled with joy. Beauty, potential, fire, passion – all these I see in others and it inspires joy. Since God has blessed me with the gift for blessing others, I have an infinite well of joy to draw from. These are the moments when I truly see how God has made my life good. Furthermore, he has made it full of joy.
To dive even deeper, I would say that using the gifts God has given me not only fills me with joy, but it is an act of worship. I have been finding recently that I keep worshipping accidentally. I will come out of a train of thoughts and find that my heart is overflowing with emotion; something inside me will be trembling. Somehow, after all my frustrations and problems have been thoroughly dissected and stomped upon, I realized God was with me, right there, in that moment. I was upset, and then I was worshipping. Then I was in awe.
I think that was worship right there. Oh God! Life doesn’t have to be “good” if I can find worship in words and blessing in bowing. Life with him is more than good. It is joyful, and that is really all that I can say.