Joy is the best make-up. ~ Ann Lamott
In a few short weeks Christmas songs will be filling the airwaves. In the malls, on the radio, at school recitals, through churches across the globe, songs about peace and hope will be sung. Peace, hope and JOY.
It seems we could all use a nice jolt of each right about now.
Joy — the subject of the beloved song Joy to the World, which by the 20th century became the most published hymn in North America], Interesting word, joy. It points to a concept beyond happiness. In fact happiness is often used to describe joy, as does delight and bliss. It originates from the Latin word gaudēre: to rejoice.
Joy can be hard to spot these days, especially amidst all of the turmoil, confusion, and anger filling social media and airwaves. Well-intentioned people scramble and fight against each other for the last word, even on things like how to love well.
Which can leave us searching to make sense of it all. Where’s the joy? Is it here? In the midst of information overload, unfettered discourse, illness, and heartache, can we find joy so that we can sing along with honest hearts offering true goodwill toward those traveling alongside?
Joy to the World.
I remember not so long ago sitting at our kitchen table with my father-in-law chatting about the topic of joy. He was in Dallas for a visit, a small breather from his own less-than-ideal life-landscape. His wife of 50 years had been taken prisoner by Alzheimer’s. Literally everything in their life had changed.
But, this man of faith met heartache head on, determined, in a manner worth contemplating as we travel our own road:
- He grappled with joy honestly, not in some Pollyanna way or in an effort to prove a point. He asked the question, “What does it mean to “count it all joy’?” And he asked with an open mind, keeping his own answers and desires at bay. I think that’s why hope always met him in the midst.
- He made the most of his situation. He was quick to take the focus off his himself by constantly reaching out to those around him. For the ten or so years he made the daily trek to an Alzheimer’s unit, he was around lots of folks who needed an ear to hear their story or a good word to brighten their day. So he listened and encouraged.
- He kept going. He didn’t know the answer to counting it all joy, but determinedly, anchored in trust and hope, he put one foot in front of the other, every day.
- He never fell prey to a “victim” mentality.
I’ve witnessed other friends who are at the epicenter of suffering find joy the same way. Kyle Ogle, a friend of my brother’s, shared about joy while living out his cancer diagnosis:
God never promised me an easy life or great wealth, just an abundant life.
Things have been excruciatingly hard at times, but we have lived. It hasn’t been the kind of everyday, monotonous, do-it-all-again-the-next-day kind of living. We have experienced more love, more joy, more kindness, and more miracles than most people see in 100 years of living.
Joy in the midst. Anchored in hope.
Maybe some seeing-beyond-the-moment and practicing joy TODAY can help us to rise above the world’s chaos and spot pockets of peace -– to see beyond ourselves. Because, it’s likely that someone will cross our path today who needs to be heard or seen and encouraged.
Joy to the World.[Side-note: Joy to the World, written by Isaac Watts, was published in 1719. It was a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphal return rather than a song celebrating his birth. The melody of the beloved song is believed to have originated from Handel, famed composer of Messiah.]
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.Giveaway! Kay has generously offered Sisterhood readers the chance to win a print copy of her latest book, Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in its Place (Revell 8/18), of which a portion of this article is excerpted. Also included in the giveaway is a movie gift card AND an Isaiah 26:3 computer cling (shown here with Mitty, Kay’s promo poster-pup). Enter the giveaway here!
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Kay Wyma is a mom of five, blogger, vodcaster and author. Her latest book Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in its Place (Revell 8/18), contemplates being overwhelmed by Truth with all its hope and peace and joy rather than life’s pressures, stress & circumstances. Join the conversations at kaywyma.com.