You know when you’ve got it. It’s not based on circumstances, possessions or possible activities. Those can all disappoint after a time.
It’s centered around great relationships that you can count on. Those people who graciously provide satisfaction and delight with their presence that’s beyond what’s happening around you.
It comes from being known.
I watched my oldest daughter feed her seven-month-old son, and the joy on his face made me smile. It wasn’t just the food (though flavorless rice cereal would put a pep in anyone’s step) but the fact that recognized his mom was right there, feeding him and carrying on a conversation which made him giggle. If she looked away, his face would drop into a frown. If too much time passed before she glanced back, he’d let her know his displeasure.
It was joy my girls shared (minus a very missed sister-in-law) when they celebrated Courtney’s pregnancy. A baby they’ve all prayed for. Knowing their sister, this baby is being anticipated with incredible delight.
Joy is the look on the face of cousins who haven’t seen each other in a long time. Sizing each other up and remembering the fun that once was–and would be again.
Joy is friends and family being reunited after too long a separation. The chance to do life together, even for a short time. Cherishing moments and shared memories.
Family relationships are tricky. Some folks get along well with theirs; others, not so much.
The challenge or ease of kinship doesn’t take away from our need to be known and loved.
It was Cal’s eye contact with his mom that grabbed my heart. He had to see her. She was his safe place. The one he counted on most for comfort and food.
If I’d been feeding him, he’d have been looking for her.
Real joy isn’t an entitlement; it’s a gift. It isn’t something we can demand; it’s something we receive with gratitude.
Jesus called joy one of the gifts of His Holy Spirit that can be part of the lives of those who follow Him. Joy is a fruit grown in the soul that matures as we learn to trust the One who has given His all for us. It ripens as we walk with Jesus.
Joy can’t truly be experienced apart from a genuine loving relationship. An opportunity to be really known, totally exposed, and still loved without conditions, without any expectation of performance. Being loved freely, known fully, and accepted completely. Exactly as I am.
The only One who can love like that is God Himself. Through Jesus.
Does it ever get any better than that?
Happiness is fleeting. It’s derived from what life holds for us in the moment.
Joy, however, is worth the time and pursuit of greater understanding of who God really is. What His heart’s desire is for us.
That’ll bring a grin any day.