Friday, June 05, 2009

Of happiness and joy

Rebecca wrote about Pursuing happyness the other day. It got me thinking about happiness versus joy. I've grown up in a church that distinguishes between the two. Happiness is an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Joy is a spiritual emotion--not even an emotion really. A gift. One of God's graces which we never deserve but which he gives us anyway.

Happiness is transitory. It's great while it lasts, but when you're done with the ice cream cone, you're done with the ice cream cone. That's it. No more. Oh, sure, you could get another ice cream cone, but sooner or later you would run out of ice cream or cones. And you'd probably be sick to your stomach.

Joy, on the other hand, may leave you, but it is a reaching into eternity. It's quiet, reaching into the corners of your heart and filling them with something both heady and sobering. And joy comes regardless of the circumstances. I believe that it is one of the marks of a great Christian that they carry joy and peace in their heart no matter what the outward aspects of their life. I know that's challenging. Believe me, I fail every day.

Happiness is great. But you can find it anywhere. Books make me happy. Cooking makes me happy. Chocolate makes me happy. Dogs sitting on my lap (nice, small dogs, that is) make me happy.

But joy? I can only find joy with God. So I'll seek joy.


Mimi said...

This post is fantastic, but especially the last line. Thank you~

elizabeth said...

Joy is the best; hard as it often comes in and through suffering. yet it is the best.

I am slowly learning that the pursuit of happiness, spiritually speaking, is usually the wrong pursuit... this is a tricky one and I think only comes with time and the Church...

I must say though that I do love ice cream cones...! :)

Anonymous said...

This is so much like what my bishop told me when I was feeling depressed some time ago. Thank you.

Almost Pentecost!


Hilarius said...

Read your 'blog here and there (found via friend Mimi's 'blog) and your reported tastes in books and music, and worship caught my eye.

I trust you had a good experience in Blighty and welcome back!

Indeed, Joy is an elusive but desireable thing. I wonder if pursuing it as a thing creates problems? If one follows close to Christ, will it be the natural result, but if pursued for the experience of it, never found?

Thanks for the post.

In Xp,

-Eric John

MaureenE said...

Mim, thank you. :)

Elizabeth, that is a tricky one. I don't think it's wrong, but I do think we have to realize that happiness is transitory and not try to cling to it. And I love ice cream cones too!

obsessivejaneite (I keep wanting to call you OJ :D), I hope you had a blessed Pentecost! And I'm glad the post was encouraging.

Eric John, nice to "meet" you. I think you have a good point when you say If one follows close to Christ, will it be the natural result, but if pursued for the experience of it, never found?
. If I remember correctly, The Art of Prayer says much the same thing.