You may have caught my earlier post on revolutionary joy, and you’re probably getting the sense that I talk about joy a lot. It’s important. Cause at the end of the day, when has our culture ever offered us joy? Do big houses bring joy? Do high paying jobs bring joy? Does plentiful and unattached physical pleasure bring joy?
I can’t say I have much personal experience, but my observations tell me no. Even within the secular cultural mythology we commonly see characters in our favorite shows and books who have all those things and still are wildly unhappy. Celebrity marriages fall apart frequently. The wealthy seem to have just as many (if not more) problems than your average person. Although it is primarily money, success, and sex that is sold to us as “the good” on a regular basis, that same cultural machine consistently admits the ultimate emptiness of those things.
But we know deep down at our core that life is not empty. It is possible for life to have meaning. Life is meant to mean something. Life is meant to be infused with something lasting and that something is manifest in everyday joy. Joy in doing the laundry and seeing the ocean. Joy in holding a baby and holding the hand of a dying woman.
The Lives of the Saints
We see this joy in the saints –in Mother Teresa, Blessed Chiara Bandano, St. Therese, and many more throughout history. Saints are not people with extraordinarily easy lives, and typically quite the opposite. And yet people flock to them. People feed off them. They have something. And that something is there for the world to see in their joy.
I heard this wonderful analogy once – people learning to be doctors in medical school start by studying the healthy body, and it is only once they have a thorough understanding of that do they begin to learn how to treat diseases. Saints can be seen as the “healthy body” and it is only through their study can we learn how to treat the issues that plague the rest of humanity. Their lives and works are a case study in joy flowing from the only everlasting spring – God.
What is joy?
I know it veers from the dictionary definition, but I would define joy as the external manifestation of the interior peace that comes from knowing God. Think of a person in love. A sense of searching for acceptance from others is gone. They are content with their lot in life and define themselves to an extent quite happily through their relationship with their beloved. And if a fragile, finite person can give us such a sense of security and happiness, how much more can we expect from a relationship with God?
Joy is a bit of a buzzword lately, and I think that it is an attractive concept for anyone feeling worn out and worn down. But when the world tries to offer “joy” it just can’t last, if for no other reason then that the world itself is passing away. The world won’t last, so how can it offer anything lasting?
Simple answer? It can’t.
But joy is still attainable because of God. He has it to give and He wants it for you.
But charity does not allow us to just find some joy for ourselves and then let everybody else figure it out. If our joy in God is real it necessarily bubbles over into our whole lives, and thus gives us ample opportunity to share this joy and perhaps its root as well. I am big fan of evangelization through radical joy. And that is my prayer for your life as well as mine.
I envision a revolution in our culture not necessarily because we as Christians are the best thinkers or rhetoricians or philosophers, although those things are vital, but because we as Christians are living lives of such radical service and joy that people can’t help but want what we have – what only God has to give. I envision a revolution led by people who see that they don’t have to live with a heart full of holes they constantly try to plug with physical relationships, big houses, and corner offices. There is a better way. Those holes can be healed instead.
The Sisterhood of Joy
But it’s hard, guys. Joy is hard. Building that relationship with God, coming to know Him better – it can feel like you’re talking to your bedroom wall sometimes. So that’s why we need community. That’s why we need sisters – women pushing us to keep going, keep looking for joy, keep seeking God’s will first.
I don’t have any biological sisters, and my only sister in law lives in Europe, so I don’t have a lot going for me in the sister realm. I have also always struggled with female friendships as well – who hasn’t? But that doesn’t have to define our story. There are so many women out there ready to pray, ready to love, ready to support you. But you might have to go find them.
You might have to be the one to say hi. You might have to meet a few that aren’t ready to share that much, and that’s okay. I’m just here to tell you they are out there. And if you’ve already found one/some/a bunch of women like that, praise God! Save someone else the fear of reaching out and do the reaching out yourself. Bring another person in. There is always room for more.
To help women like you find other women who want to live lives of greater joy through discernment of God’s will I have started a Facebook group called #JoyRebels – Women Searching for and Living Their Call in Christ. We are looking for women of any age, in any situation, desiring to live God’s call for them with joy. Sound awesome? Join us!!
I will also be sharing my own efforts at more joyful living in Christ with the hashtag #JoyRebels. My goal is that #JoyRebels can become a movement that helps people connect with others seeking true joy throughout the world.
Join in on Instagram by tagging a photo of you living out God’s joy in your life with the hashtag #JoyRebels and tag @pinksaltriot as well.
What do you do to pursue joy? Do you see a difference in your life and in the people around you when you let God bring you His joy? Let me know in the comments!