Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Week 3: Joy

As a child, my favorite week of advent was the 3rd week because we would get to light the pink candle on the advent wreath (the other 3 are purple).  The four themes of advent are hope, love, joy, and peace, and when you reflect on the meaning of the words, it makes sense that joy would get a different color candle as its meaning does stand out in comparison to the other words.  Hope, love, and peace are more often quietly expressed - but joy seems to be more outwardly professed. 

I think it's good to ask yourself whether you feel a sense of joy in your life or not.  I know that life is not all sunshine and rainbows and professions of joy - but if your life is completely void of joy, and has been for an extended period of time, it could be a signal that things are amiss. 

I remember having a conversation with a good friend a couple of years ago when I was in a serious relationship.  She talked about what it was like when she met and dated her husband.  She said the best way to describe the relationship was that she was filled with joy when they were together.  Now, it wasn't a non-stop sense of joy, but in general, her time spent with her husband brought her joy.  I remembered listening to her and thinking how much joy was lacking in my relationship with my boyfriend.  Actually, there really wasn't much joy at all, instead I would say there was a 'heaviness' to our interactions that is hard to explain and is something that can probably only be understood by a person who has found themselves in the wrong relationship. That relationship came to an end eventually, but that conversation about joy (and my reflection on the lack of it) was part of what prompted me to think about whether I wanted to stay in that relationship.

These days, I feel lucky that I have such a feeling of joy about my life.  It hasn't happened overnight and it hasn't been easy, but I've made changes in my life to bring myself more joy -  from ending a relationship to moving into a new home to finding a job that is fulfilling.  These changes have required courage, faith, and, to some extent, boldness, but the end result has been worth it.  The culmination of all of these changes have resulted in others saying that I seem like a different, happier person these days.  There is a spring in my step, I am more quick to laugh and smile, and I have shaken the tangible sense of 'heaviness' that I carried around with me for the first half of the year.

Now I find joy in the little things, like a hug from a nephew, cuddling with my niece, enjoying a latte, finishing a great run, or having coffee with a friend.  Life is not perfect, but I choose to focus on the things that bring me joy. 

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."  (John 15:11)

21 comments:

Becky said...

Oh my gosh these Advent posts are wonderful!!! I completely agree - it's easy to overlook the joy in every day life, especially during this season. I think that's part of why I'm advocating so much for the 12 days of love letter writing - I want to give as many people joy as possible!

AshleyD said...

I love this! I think so many people don't even realize it when the joy is missing from their lives. It's so easy to get into a routine and not notice, but if you can make those little changes, it often brings so much joy. I also liked that you mentioned your relationship. The people we surround ourselves with is so important to our happiness. Thanks for sharing!

Abby said...

I love this post! The true sense of joy is a difficult sense to explain, but an very strong one.

It's interestig you talk about joy today, b/c yesterday we went to this "street fair" in downtown Tucson. One of the booths was art by this artist by a guy from Uganda - and they was a wall of "Paintings of Joy".

If they weren't like $900/piece, I wish I could've purchased them! The paintings were just great reminds of how we should live

Nora said...

Awesome post, Lisa.
I think it's easy to choose not to focus on the joy that we have in our lives, even when we do have joy in all aspects of our lives!

Great reminder to find and focus on the joy.

Carolina John said...

That's really neat. We all need to find more joy right now.

Stephany said...

I like how you described joy and what a lack of joy feels like: heaviness. I think that is SO true. When our lives are filled with joy, the heaviness dissipates. Not every day will be full of joy but when we have joy, those down moments don't feel as HEAVY.

I think we always need to take a step back from our lives and really ask ourselves, "Am I living with joy? If not, what is keeping me from it?" And take steps to find a more happier, joyful life. It will probably not be an easy process, but worthwhile in the end.

Another lovely Advent post from you. :)

Raquelita said...

I am really loving this Advent series, Lisa! I agree with Ashley's comment that sometimes we can get so sucked into our routines that we might not even notice when joy seems to be largely missing. It's good to focus on the parts of our lives that do make us happy even as we realize that not everything is going to be perfect or to bring us joy.

missris said...

This is such an inspiring post. I think that everyone can find joy in their life if they look for it. It doesn't have to be a huge thing, there can be joy in very small things too. It's choosing to look for it and focus on it that makes a big difference.

B and B said...

Beautiful!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

This might be my favourite advent post yet. Love this. I agree that it's important to not only find joy in our life, but it's important to find joy in our EVERY DAY life. I've been letting myself get bogged down by some of the little things lately (like chores and eating bad and blah blah) and it does leave you with a feeling of heaviness. I need to remember to focus on the big and small things that give me so much joy because there are a lot of things and people that do this.

Anyways, not sure if that comment even made sense ha! But great post my friend :)

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

I love your Advent posts so much. I agree with you---the opposite of joy is heaviness. When I was at my unhappiest, everything felt heavy and icky. It wasn't even just sadness, but this lack of any sort of spring in my step. I think finding joy is so important.

Lovely post.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I think joy is a very good barometer by which to measure any relationship. We often let ourselves get weighed down by too much negativity, forgetting that we play a role in letting it envelope our lives. I love that you've been so proactive about your life - and now you're reaping the benefits of all that hard work!

Jess said...

I've spent the last few months being a little mopey, but I'm getting better at realizing all the good things I have going on!! (Hugs from my niece and nephew definitely top the joy list!)

Thanks for this post, Lisa.

Marlys said...

Our visiting priest gave a sermon on joy this weekend and he said it is not the same as pleasure. He said the ancient meaning of joy is:
J - Jesus, O - others, Y - yourself and when we live in that order we will find joy, even in difficult situations, even in pain. I thought it was a wonderful message! Happy Joyfilled Advent!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I love these Advent posts, and the pink candle of course :)

I like the word joy better than happy sometimes. In some ways I think happy is an overall feeling, and joy is more about specific moments of joy- maybe that's just in my mind. I like every day to have a little bit of joy, and of course my relationships to have a lot of joy! I'm so glad that you have made changes in your life to have more joy in it :)

Rosie said...

Lisa....you are such an amazing writer....and I truly enjoy reading your posts....they are insightful...and I admire how you can express how you feel.....and your explanation of Advent....the best I have heard.....Thank you for your wonderful writings...and I am so glad you have found your JOY....Rosie

Marisa A. said...

Yay, so glad you have so much joy in your life. Sometimes we do have to take risks for that joy but it always ends up being well worth it :)

Mandy said...

I love this post. Such a true post, I am so glad that you've found the joy in every day. Things here have been a bit "heavy" and I'm doing my best to find the joy in days.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

These posts are great. It really makes me step back and take a look at what I have, whether it is hope or love or joy. It's all there, we just need to sometimes look for it...or work for it.

I think that many times when we are lacking Joy, what we need is Change, but change is scary, so we live lives without as much joy because we are fearful of change. You obviously changed some things in your life, which is hard, and because of it, you found your joy! I am so glad.

I can't wait to see what the next Avent post brings. They just keep getting better and better!

crystal said...

I happen to think that the joy found in little things it the best kind; quietly exhilarating.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Great post! It is so important to not take any moment for granted and to find joy in the little things. Have you ever read "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis? I would recommend it.