Three years ago I was fortunate to go on a mission trip with my daughter to South Africa. As you can imagine it was an amazing experience. The people Lauren and I met have become more like family than friends. When we came home my daughter’s teacher asked me “What is one take away from your time in Africa?” I was quick to answer, “I learned that I alone stand in front of my own joy.”
During our trip, my daughter and I met many people that were by our U.S. standards struggling. The people we met lived in townships outside the city and dealt with violence, poverty, and social unrest on a daily basis. But as we spent time there what stood out to me was their JOY. Joy in life, not situations. Joy in the Lord, not in possessions.
I can easily confuse happiness with joy. The definition of happy is feeling, showing, or expressing joy while the definition of joy is: something causing such a feeling; a source of happiness an outward show of pleasure or delight. So as I read it, we must have JOY to truly be happy. In our culture we typically focus on the “happy” versus the “joy” but without joy we will have zero happiness.
So where does your joy come from? Where does your children’s joy come from?
During the holidays we sang, “Joy to the World” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”…great reminders of the true Source of JOY. Where is your heart as you begin this New Year? Where is your child’s heart? Is your joy in accomplishments, material things, having it right – or is your joy in the small and wonderful things that God allows you to experience every day?
I’m putting away the New Year’s resolutions and lists of stuff to accomplish and focusing on JOY. I choose JOY. Join me in choosing to find joy in the little things in life. It may a peaceful moment waiting in line to pick up your child from practice, a big smile on your child’s face after accomplishing something difficult, or a simple hug that lasts a little longer than usual from your teenager.
And what about finding joy at school and at work? Ephesians 6:7 tells us, “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” As your children head into the second half of the school year help them find joy not only in their successes but also in their failures. Help your children see the positive in doing well and the positive in disappointment. Both experiences offer growth and learning. God is with us during all of our experiences and is where our true joy originates.
Happy New Year! Happy Joy Year!
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education! A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)
Art by Laura Mulliken