Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Of happiness and joy

Rebecca wrote about Pursuing happyness the other day. It got me thinking about happiness versus joy. I've grown up in a church that distinguishes between the two. Happiness is an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Joy is a spiritual emotion--not even an emotion really. A gift. One of God's graces which we never deserve but which he gives us anyway.

Happiness is transitory. It's great while it lasts, but when you're done with the ice cream cone, you're done with the ice cream cone. That's it. No more. Oh, sure, you could get another ice cream cone, but sooner or later you would run out of ice cream or cones. And you'd probably be sick to your stomach.

Joy, on the other hand, may leave you, but it is a reaching into eternity. It's quiet, reaching into the corners of your heart and filling them with something both heady and sobering. And joy comes regardless of the circumstances. I believe that it is one of the marks of a great Christian that they carry joy and peace in their heart no matter what the outward aspects of their life. I know that's challenging. Believe me, I fail every day.

Happiness is great. But you can find it anywhere. Books make me happy. Cooking makes me happy. Chocolate makes me happy. Dogs sitting on my lap (nice, small dogs, that is) make me happy.

But joy? I can only find joy with God. So I'll seek joy.


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