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Bursts of Joy

“Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.

Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.

Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration.”

Brene Brown

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22 NASB

There are two things every morning when I wake up that give me a lot of joy…

The first (and this is not gratuitous mushiness) is that I see my wife, Mary Ann, and immediately smile.

The distant second thing is the very first cup of coffee.

Yes, they are simple, but I measure joy by the amount of gratitude I feel every time that joy shows up.

If I go “in search” of some experience that will produce joy…it rarely ever does…show up, that is.

Joy is not a bunny rabbit playing hide and go seek with me. It doesn’t want me to pursue it and find it…because I never will. I will only find its cheap imposter friend…

As Leonard Ravenhill said it best…”Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy.”

Rather, real joy sneaks up on you in ordinary day-to-day events of life and can make you laugh until your stomach hurts… or weep with tears of joy.

It arrives the moment when your neighbor’s fourth-grade child innocently says out loud while you are sitting on their deck,

“Dad, I tried coming into your bedroom on Sunday morning, but the door was locked, and it sounded like you and Mom were killing each other in there!”

Yeah, you can’t buy those moments!

It isn’t just the comedy that your neighbor is embarrassed by…it is a pure joy that everyone will remember forever. Joy sneaks up on you like a fourth grader…it sneaks up on you like Dennis the Menace.

Joy comes when, at 64, you see a picture of your son interviewing the Secretary of State…THE Secretary of State in a one-on-one interview. There is so much pride in your heart because you remember that all of his life growing up, he said,

“I want to be a journalist.” Joy produces that pride and thankfulness.

It is always in the ordinary things…in the unrehearsed first day of work, when your new employer says, “You were a good hire.”

It happens when you stand in front of your new house, still under construction, and your wife begins to cry…because it’s your first home…and she already sees Thanksgiving in the dining room ten years into the future.

Real joy hunts you down, like a safari, taking aim at the moment you least expect… like the time your parents told you,

“We’re so proud of you!” for a decision you made, a sacrifice you gave, or an achievement you always wanted.

Joy is never going to come by working those extra four hours when you could have been at your child’s school play or playing a round of golf when you should have been fulfilling a promise to paint the deck or clean the garage.

Joy acts as the satisfaction that you did the right thing.

Joy isn’t bought with dollars…it arrives in the delivery room, shows up as they walk across the stage at commencement, and streams down your face when they make partner in their law firm.

Real joy is a harlequin…it masquerades as one thing while really being the other. It wears tears when it is actually happy. Joy falls like the rain, coming down one second in sheets and the next, showing up after a long drought. Real joy refreshes the heart with the promise…” you won’t be left in a dry and weary land.”

And the rainbow appears.

You cannot go looking for that kind of joy. You don’t choose IT

IT chooses you, and it chooses WHEN.

Joy is the relief you feel when justice comes.

When the unknown wrongs have been made right. Joy opens the prison door for you…it is the sun that shines on your face as you walk out free. It is the change of clothes from your prison garb.

You remember that day…don’t you?

Those brief bursts of joy couldn’t happen all the time. They would, as Brown says, “be unbearable.”

Instead, joy comes sporadically, in doses…like good medicine. And in order to be completely healed from the terminal illness of dreary lifelessness…we must happily take our medicine when it is given…

-or suffer the effects of an existence, deceived into thinking that entertainment was all there was, and miss living altogether.

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