Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joyful words

Joy is not in things, it is in us.
Richard Wagner
I think we lose sight of this at times…no wait, I think society in general loses sight of this. So often we are a ‘need more, want more’ society and we wish we could have what the neighbours have, wish we could live like the rich guy across town, wish we could travel like our well to do relatives.
Do those that have things really have joy? Do those that have things not have true joy? The answer lies not in what they have but what they are. Not in where they’ve been but where they are going.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

I think I have really discovered this in my advent theme blogging project. This is the first year since we lost Cole that I haven’t found myself sinking into a dark pit when the early days of December roll in. I know that it’s not just because of the project. It helps that I have begun to build a relationship with Christ and discovered a great support group of people in some of my fellow LEMC church members. It helps that I pray, reflect and live graciously. But the project has kept me focused on various positive themes, themes of hope, love, joy and peace. Those are the thoughts I’ve had lately and I think that maybe that’s what I have become…more hopeful, more loving, more joyful and more and more at peace.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Mark Twain

Grief sure can take care of itself. It can consume you without a backward glance if you let it. I used to think I didn’t let grief run the show for me but I know now that I did. I used it as an excuse to not take care of myself and to hold on to years and years of weight that I really needed to release. I let grief control my free time and spent hours and hours retelling my story, crying over others stories and talking about the negative emotions that my loss brought on.
But not I find I feel joy…not just happiness, not just contentedness but really soul filling joy. I think that having Geoff accept Christ and having him work so hard at self-improvement has given me someone to share my joy with…and that just leads to more joy. In a time where things could be so negative (and in many people’s minds, should be so negative), we are optimistic, peaceful…joyful!

Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
Mohandas Gandhi

Now if this isn’t a reflection that speaks volumes, I don’t know what is. I’ve been a volunteer in some way, shape or form for most of my life. I think that I usually found joy in my volunteer work but not always. But I know for sure that I have watched volunteers burn themselves out and just become, well, miserable to be around. I am sure you can all think of people like that too. The project becomes a chore, they become negative and eventually the project either flops or it is decided not to pursue it again because it just wasn’t working, wasn’t successful. If only we could find a way to do our ‘work’, to accomplish our tasks while being filled with joy…being optimistic, hopeful, approachable, compassionate…well the list could go on and on. If that was our approach then I am very certain that many more projects would go ahead, many more volunteers could be found.

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
Mother Teresa

A nice image…a net full of souls caught by the joy we emit as we go about life. When you think about your own life, if you are like me, you can think of someone who has impacted you by their joyful attitude. When you go about life with the optimism that Joy is, when you are full of life, happiness, kindness, graciousness and, well, joy, then you will draw people to you…and change their day, change their mood, change their lives.

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
Khalil Gibran

So often people do not remember to pray when thing are going well. At our Wednesday night bible study our pastor always began with asking for praise items. Not prayer items, not requests but instead a time to rejoice for the good things. It seems to be easy to ask for help from the Lord but we seem to forget to be gracious. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be just once a year, we need to give thanks and praise each day. There is always something to be grateful for and there is always joy to be had…you just need to know where to look.

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