I heard it once said: Joy is habit you cultivate. Joy- a habit? I thought it was a feeling. The dictionary says so.
Joy is habit you cultivate. These words ring in my ears and force me to consider that perhaps joy is much more than a feeling. So, if joy is a habit, how do you cultivate it? Take a garden, for example. Now, I’m only a gardener in my fairy tale dreams that include a simpler life on a prairie, but I know enough to understand that in order to plant a garden that will thrive it must be cultivated. Before planting seeds, soil must be prepared, broken up. It must be made ready for planting. Wait, am I to understand that joy can be a part of brokenness? Say what? I thought brokenness was marked by sadness.
The Bible tells stories of the countless ones who have gone before while, in the midst of severe tragedy, were marked as ones who were filled with joy.
Now, I’ve got it pretty good. Probably better than I should. My life is not marked by severe tragedy, but rather by the daily woes one faces in this not-yet-made-right world. But do I have joy? The answer is sadly that many days, I do not. I choose to fix my gaze on my circumstances rather than on truth.
So how does one cultivate joy? I believe the answer lies somewhere in the daily decision of simply choosing it. I can hear the retort, “Well, you don’t know what I deal with every day.” This is true. I know that people have hard lives that I cannot relate with or understand. But one thing I do understand is this: God is not a liar. His word is full of promises. And, Jesus, for the JOY set before him, willingly went to the cross. He was born to die and the Man of Sorrows suffered indeed. And yet there was joy before him.
I feel I am still working through this and discovering daily joy. I need to play more with my children, who are full of more smiles and laughter than I am. I need to stop the huffing and puffing (literally) when things don’t go my way. We need more dance parties in our kitchen. And more of Jesus. Simple, yet profound. More of Jesus.
“Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.”
–Henry J. van Dyke