Surprised by joy!

I was pleasantly surprised the other day, when someone close, described me as ‘joyful’.
Truth is, life doesn’t always feel full of joy. It’s often full of the unexpected, like my partner having unstable health, and various other challenging circumstances (which have prevented blogging recently). So it was lovely to know that despite all this, joy seeps out!
Feelings are not necessarily the same as facts. I may feel overwhelmed at times, but deeper facts tell me a different story. As Mother Teresa said:

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much” 

I find a refreshing humour and hope in this.

So what is joy? I believe it’s what bubbles up from a deep connection with God, and there’s something special when this flows over into other people’s lives – for both the receiver and the giver.

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Joy is different to happiness.
Happiness is a feeling, and feelings are generated by circumstances. They’re changeable, just like the sea. Sometimes the sea of life is calm, and all is sunshine and light.
Other times it’s dark and stormy. We are tossed about, and happiness can be swept overboard before we know it!

Joy though, is deeper. Its source is God, and rises from the depths.
However much positive thinking I do, I cannot make myself truly joyful – deep joy comes when I plunge the depths and am honest with God. It gives me the sense that there is more to life than meets the eye. It gives me a different, lighter perspective, and nudges me onwards and upwards.
It’s there for everyone. We just need to dip our toe in – in all our messiness and hurt and uncertainty. When we allow ourselves to be surrounded by God’s current of love, joy will seep into our inner selves and swell our hearts. It will make a difference to us, and those around us.

There’s a family joke that my epitaph will be ‘She was a maker and a mender’. Spot on, but to be thought of as ‘joyful’, is even better!

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Truth is… “[may] my joy be in you and your joy be made full” John 15:11

If the shoes fit

Recently someone was sharing with me, their uncertainty about what to do.

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It had taken this person some time to work out what was making them unsettled, and now they were looking at the different pieces that made up their life and working out what to do next. Was it time to make a sweeping change that would alter their situation in so many ways, or to change different aspects one at a time?
As I listened to their story, it sounded like a positive opportunity was being offered to them, but they were anxious that it might not turn out right.

There are of course, no hard and fast rules, and that’s why we can sometimes feel uncertain.
Life can be a bit like baking a cake. Sometimes the combination of ingredients calls for an ‘all in one method’ where you just tip everything in, give it a good mix, and bake. Other times, the content calls for light handling and a gentle folding in of ingredients, one by one, before cooking and turning out.

However, the person who was talking with me isn’t into baking, so a different analogy was needed. What came to mind was shoes!
It seemed like a box of ‘shoes’ was in front of them. These were exactly the right size, and in a style and colour they liked. So their choice was whether to take them out the box and put them on. Left in the box they wouldn’t be going anywhere, but put on, they could step out…
I was so glad when they later told me they were ‘wearing’ them!

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Throughout life we all need new ‘shoes’. Outgrown shoes can pinch and constrain; worn out shoes are past their best.
Truth is, I’ve sometimes been reluctant to go up a ‘size’, or replace ‘old for new’. But there’s a line in the film Forrest Gump that reminds me to check my ‘shoes’:

“Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been.”

May we put our best foot forward by getting in the right mindset…

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Truth is… ‘In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths’ Proverbs 3:6