Joy! 3 short letters but such a beautiful and powerful word.
I’m not a linguist, but I feel as though this word frequently gets used as a synonym for happy. Yet Joy (to me) is so much deeper than that. Happy is feeling, it comes and goes, it is the antonym for sad. Joy on the other hand is a deeper emotion, it is a choice, a mindset.
I was talking about resolutions with someone recently and they asked if I had ever done the thing where you choose a word for the year. I laughed and said, ‘No, I don’t think I have a big enough vocabulary!’ But as the days went on, joy was the word that continued to pull at my heart in a new way.
I found myself pondering the meaning of joy like I hadn’t really done since my senior year of high school. You see, Joy is a word I have always loved. As a little girl, I named my most beautiful porcelain doll, Melissa Joy and dreamed about naming my baby girl Melissa Joy someday. In Junior High, my mom put up a sign in the bathroom that said, ‘Choose Joy.’ It made me smile and reminded me that I could choose how to respond to people or situations in life. But my senior year of high school was when this word truly began taking shape for me.
My senior year was a bumpy one. I had a lot of great friends, excelled in school and loved volleyball, but come spring I was feeling lower than I had ever been. I broke up with my first boyfriend, watched my Grandma battle cancer, lost my cousin to suicide and then in the winter lost a dear friend after an act of violence. I was drowning in questions, struggling in my faith, and couldn’t wait to leave our small town because I hoped that life was better outside of it. It was then, at my darkest time that I heard a sermon on joy. I certainly didn’t feel joyful. I wanted to sit in anger and in sadness, but something struck a chord with me. I can’t even remember the exact words that were said, but the overall impact is still there. Even when I felt miserable and realized how cruel things in this world could be; sitting in that wouldn’t serve me and it certainly wouldn’t be what my fruity pebbles loving friend, Charlie, would want either.
I started looking for Joy, and strangely enough a brilliant 3-year old’s words are the ones that were the most helpful. I was babysitting my sweet Lane Elizabeth. I don’t know if her parents really needed me or if I they knew I needed something to serve as a distraction from crying, but shortly after I got there, the sun came out. It shined through their front window where they had one of those crystal rainbow makers hanging. The front room was instantly full of rainbows and Laney started dancing around and squealed, ‘Crystal, look, rainbows are full of happies!’ I was instantly overcome with emotion as I danced and cried and laughed with her. Rainbows ARE full of happies. There is hope and there is joy in life, even when I hadn’t been so sure. I took a similar rainbow maker with me to college as a reminder to look for the happies. I still smile when I see a rainbow and I will be eternally grateful for Lane, her wisdom and how she helped me find Joy.
I’m not sure why this short 3-letter word seems to have been laid so heavily on my heart lately, but I’ve decided to make it my word for 2020. I’m trying to slow down and live in the little moments. I want to enjoy my own 3-year olds and learn from them like I did from Lane. When situations are frustrating, I want to search for the good in them. And I want to spread joy even through blogging and social media. Sometimes I question if anybody wants to hear about the up-sides of things like potty training, but I’ll try to share a little positivity anyway. As I embark on a new decade, I aim to be better at not just choosing Joy for myself but sharing it with others.
Turns out you don’t need to have a big vocabulary to have a word.
This year, I am Choosing Joy!
Addendum: I wrote this blog post last week. After writing it, something major happened in my life and it made me question whether or not to even post this. And then I thought, ‘The Lord works in mysterious ways and there was a reason this was placed so heavily on my heart.’ Maybe it will help one of you, but perhaps its only purpose was to remind me of something I would need a few short days later.
Science shows that reading about joyous things can help us find more joy around us. I would love for you to engage on this post. Please share about a silver lining, share an uplifting thought, share about something that brings you Joy. And if you find yourself in the middle of a dark place where you can’t seem to find the joy, please reach out. Reach out to friends, family, loved ones or reach out to me. I’m happy to listen and share a little love.