Finding Joy beyond Happiness 

Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably. For some, joy is just thought of as extremely happy.  I challenge that joy and happiness are different. They come from different places. 

Both emotions are extremely pleasant and put smiles on people’s faces. Happiness though, is based on circumstances. You are happy when you get a raise. You are happy when you get a good gift, or when you get married. Happiness is a great feeling, with lots of laughs and smiles. Happiness is fleeting though. 

Happiness only lasts for a little while. As long as the good thing that just happened is fresh and new. Happiness comes and goes like the changing winds, based on circumstances and what can sometimes be fleeting emotions. 

Happiness is circumstantial. It’s a fantastic emotion. An appropriate emotion at weddings, births, getting good grades, someone being nice to you, or receiving a compliment. Happiness feeling like a warm cup of hot coco on a cold day. Yet, all of those the feelings go soon after the event has happened. It doesn’t last. 

Comparably, joy is a choice that you can find even in the worst situations. New mercies come every morning and the joy that God wants us to have, He freely gives us. We have to choose it though. Sometimes we have to fight for it. 

Some days you might find joy easier than others but it’s still yours to have. In my own life I have battled depression. In my teen years especially, I almost lost the battle. I couldn’t find my way to the light. I had no desire to live and I couldn’t find my own self-worth. 

Though I was surrounded by people, I felt utterly alone. In that time, I would wallow in my own self-pity, looking at all the things that were wrong with me, wrong with my body, wrong with my personality, how stupid I was. I had such a hard time gripping hold of something that was good. I was yelling at God instead of listening to Him. I was feeding myself lies instead of truth. 

After just a few lies said to me, by myself and others, it’s amazing how fast I started believing all the lies. Have you ever been in that situation? If you are told you look horrible in a certain sweater, would you ever wear it again? Probably not or only rarely, no matter how the sweater used to make you feel, the moment you were told it looks horrible on you, it changed. The sweater didn’t change, your feelings about the sweater changed. 

Happiness can stop in a moment’s notice with any change of circumstance. Joy on the other hand cannot be taken from you by your circumstance. You can be shocked by something that is sad of off putting, but joy is still there, and you can claim it, you can fight to keep your joy in any circumstance. 

Recently I got some concerning news about having a lump on one of my breasts. It was not a call I expected at 7 pm on a Tuesday night. Shocked me right out of the wanting to celebrate New Years Eve. My best friend died from breast cancer. Though I was told I just need more imaging to look at the lump and no one was mentioning the “C” word. That’s where my brain went. 

My husband and I didn’t want to tell anyone because, well, I guess that might make it real? We didn’t want anyone to worry about a lump that might be nothing. We did pray, we did claim joy and we were scared all at the same time. 

A week later, I had a second and third mammogram and then an ultrasound, all to confirm yup there is a lump there that was not there before. But, at this time, it “looks benign.” That’s what the doctor said. We follow up in six months to look at it again I guess that’s how my story goes. In this season of waiting I could let my joy be robbed from me. I could dwell in worry and let this news steal the next six months of waiting. Or I could claim the joy God wants for me. I can speak life with my words. I can find the silver lining to the cloudy days. Somedays you might have to dig deeper than others, but I think you can all do this with me. 

In Psalm 96:10 it says, “When my anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

No matter what season you are walking through you can speak words that will breath kindness and love to yourself. You can claim the joy that God wants for you and walk in it every day. Start this year off by speaking nice joyous words to yourself. 

Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Let us be wise and bring healing to ourselves with our words to ourselves and to those around us and bring joy to ourselves. 

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen