Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises. – Psalm 98:4
Joy! Joy is that glorious feeling that fills your heart and soul to overflowing with delight.
I am not talking about contentment or happiness. Being content is lovely. Being happy is nifty – even great. But contentment – happiness and joy are not the same things. Contentment – happiness and joy are different. Joy is happiness taken to the next level.
I am often content. I am pretty easily pleased. Give me a good book – a cozy nook for reading and knitting and I am fine for hours (days . . . weeks . . . millennia). Take me for a walk in our neighborhood so I can get fresh air and I am good too.
Most days I experience moments of true happiness also. Simply being with Jason, Jack, and Will makes me happy. Sunshine makes me happy. I love the feeling of sunshine on my face and seek pools of sunshine whenever I am able. Exploring – hiking – and spending time in nature makes me happy too.
But joy. Joy is different. Joy is a bolder emotion. Joy is belly laughs. Joy means huge grins. Sometimes those grins are so big the muscles in your face begin to ache!
Joy bubbles up and out of you. Joy spreads. Joy is contagious in the best possible way. You really can’t keep joy to yourself. And why would you want to?
Twice this week I had the incredible blessing of experiencing moments of joy. Both involved the McFarlands being the McFarlands. In other words – it involved us being outside.
After the snow had been half-heartedly falling on Monday for a bit – Jack and Will set off on a brotherly adventure. They do this from time to time. They go for walking expeditions together in our neighborhood and beyond.
Once Jason and I were done working at our desks for the day – we too bundled up and set off for our evening walk. (Well – I bundled up. Jason put on a fleece and a pair of gloves. My beloved has anti-freeze in his veins!) As Jason and I walked we spotted our two snow-covered adventurers coming toward us down the street. Just as the McFarland sons met up with us – a hawk swooped over all of our heads not just once – but TWICE! Seriously – as my non-exaggerating husband is my witness – the hawk flew right past us and then swooped by again. We all just stood there in the falling snow – laughing and talking and reliving the awesome moment for a good five minutes.
Our hearts were filled with both awe and joy!
My second encounter with joy this week was of a vicarious nature. I caught joy from my joyful sons. More specifically I caught joy from watching Jack and Will play in the snow. Wow – just – wow – did those two have a blast in the snow on Tuesday afternoon! It was a delight and a blessing to see their glee. To hear their laughter. To see their radiant smiles. To experience their joy.
Some of being brothers I don’t understand. I don’t understand the joy of filling someone’s boots with snow – but apparently this is hilariously funny to both participants. I would NOT want anyone to tackle me or to trip me or to run and jump on me – but all of these things fill Jack and Will’s brother hearts with JOY. Seriously – those two laughed and smiled and laughed and smiled the entire time. Actually they laughed and grinned from frozen ear to frozen ear!
Their joy quickly became my joy. I laughed and smiled and laughed some more. Their joy truly was contagious and such a blessing. I am pretty sure I will treasure memories of their laughter and joy in my heart for a very – very long time.
What makes you joyful? What fills you with joy?
It may not be soaring hawks. It probably isn’t watching Jack and Will fill each others’ boots with snow.
But have you considered the answer to those questions? What makes your heart sing? What makes you thankful to be alive? What makes you joyful . . .?
Now the next set of questions may be harder – how could you seek more joy in your life? How might you make more room in your life and in your heart for moments of joy?
When you experience moments of joy do you notice them and give thanks for them?
Do you ever take the time to relive your favorite moments of joy? Reliving favorite “joy” moments might just bring a smile to your face and a warm feeling of being blessed to your heart.
You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13