Joy is found in the big things, in the small things. It is immutable, uncontainable, and flows through those who know it vibrantly.
You can see it in a pair of eyes, a gap-toothed smile. Feel it in the loving hug of a friend, a plate of pancakes handed to you by a stranger. Hear it in laughter uncontrolled, in the good news of the Lord being shared.
I believe in expressing joy, in sharing joy, in celebrating it and nurturing it and allowing it to be what guides me.
I had a really long day at work a few weeks ago. I was sleep-deprived, I was hurting, I was exhausted – emotionally, physically, spiritually, I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and cry until the good Lord came and gave me a hug.
A stranger to me came through my line at each meal in the kitchen that day and thanked me for serving his room of 156 people. He told me my smile lit up the room and how he didn’t understand how I could be filled with so much light, just by serving them barbecue sandwiches. At the end of the day, I went to find him. He saw me, gave me a hug, and said “you exude Christ-like joy.”
When you are truly filled with the Lord’s love, you are filled with joy.
To live with a joyful heart is not easy. It is accepting that on those tough days, you will remain joyful. You will lift spirits up, you will remain in joy as Jesus remains in you. To live with a joyful heart never stops. That when your heart is broken, that when you want to scream angrily towards where it shattered, you don’t. You delicately pick up the pieces and you lovingly put them in the right hands of the Lord to fix them. You understand that by celebrating joy, you find the light in everything. That because of the blessings bestowed in heartbreak and in comfort and in suffering and in beauty, you give thanks and be joyful.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Two years. 731 days have passed since I hit “publish” on a blog post titled “Joy.” I was a junior in college, suffocated by science classes and closed door meetings with people who didn’t care about my soul and peers who minimized friendships to all my faults. I fought a then-undiagnosed mental illness with strength I didn’t know I had and I dug underneath the struggle to find this little inkling of joy. What then were just words on a computer screen became words on a key around my neck and sharpie on my hand and have now become my guiding principle in life. I live to be joyful, I live to be myself. I followed my heart these 24 months to where I am now: in my farmhouse on property of a Christian camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania, where I get to spend each of my days loving the Lord and serving His people – 40 feet in the air on a rope, over hundreds of chocolate cupcakes in the kitchen, or by cleaning two dozen bathrooms. I find joy in all that I do because I joyfully planted in Him two years ago, allowing myself to bloom into whom He has planned for me to be.
I am whole, I am enough, I can create masterpieces on this Earth because of the joy in my heart, and my joy in serving the Lord. Anxiety, fear, doubt, heartbreak, hardships have no power over the joy that is a fixed part of my being. I stand tall – like a sunflower through all weather – exuding joy that has grown such deep roots in my soul.
Shout it from the rooftops, dance fearlessly in joy. Because when you are full of joy, it becomes who you are. You have a light about you and His love flows straight from your joyfully shining face up unto the Lord.