Joy, I have found you. It took me long enough but I found you. And that’s the important thing, right?
When I was little I heard that song about you. The one that goes, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay.” We used to sing it in Sunday school, our lips moving rapidly and little hands clapping to the tune. I didn’t get it then though. No, not then. It was just a song — simply a happy melody.
A few years later, I read something about how you, joy, were different from happiness. The article said that happiness came from the good things around you, but joy was experienced through a certain state of mind. You could be joyful without being happy. Joy was a choice and you didn’t need anything for it. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought it was something over my head so I flipped to the next page and forgot it.
At fourteen, I remember writing a letter to my friend, Kaleigh, about how I wasn’t sure how to be happy that year. She wrote back about a Sunday school lesson she’d heard on joy. Again, I think I read about joy being a choice and a decision and probably something about God knowing best. I didn’t heed it though. Instead I just wrote back that now I was happy and joyful and everything else because I had gotten the part of Cogsworth in Beauty And The Beast. I scoff at my comprehension then. As if a good part in a play was ever enough to give a person true joy.
Last year, I definitely realized my wrongs in all of these things. We sang that song in Sunday school but it didn’t make me happy. I read a thousand articles on joy and hope and happiness but I still felt depressed. I even got the part that I wanted in a play, but that only made me miserable. And I wondered, is joy real? If it is, can I ever have it? Or is sadness my lonely state of mind forever?
But now I see it all more clearly. Oh, joy, yes I do! I see and experience and love to live with you, Joy. Because I have found you at last. 2011 has been the year of joy after the pain. God has allowed me to be joyful. I have chosen you, Joy. I have learned how to have you and it is wonderful.
People think I am happy now. They often comment on my smile and assume that I am always happy. Although I like the compliment, in my heart I disagree. I am happy sometimes when things go my way but I am always joyful somewhere deep inside. I have joy because He gave me pain. My heart is joyful because of Him who made it. I have joy because I know how to choose it. I was bought at a price and my sins were washed away and I will dance in joy forever.
Do you have joy today?