Finding Joy in Life Hayley Robinson
When most first think of joy the very next thing that we think of is happiness. This past year came with several events that taught me that joy and happiness are not the same, that joy is something that is much more. Joy is the kind of happiness that does not depend on what happens. Happiness is an emotion and it can change quickly and often based on your environment and the circumstances occurring around you. This is not a bad thing, we are not always going to be happy! When something bad happens of course we’re not going to be happy about it, but it is possible to rejoice and find joy in that bad situation. Joy is a choice.
I was reading a book last week about St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, and his view on suffering. I was so struck by his love for suffering. The idea of loving suffering is such a foreign concept to our society that it can be next to impossible to think about suffering much less embrace it and find joy in it! St. Josemaria is one of the amazing examples we have showing us how to find joy in the hardships presented in daily life. If even one day went by and he was not presented with a hardship of some kind he would go into the chapel and kneel before the blessed sacrament and say to our Lord “Whats wrong Jesus, Don’t you love me anymore?!” Mind blowing right!? He actually thought his days were more joyful if they contained suffering. Most of us would probably think the exact opposite, that our days would lose their joy if they contained suffering. When in fact there can be great joy in suffering, maybe even a greater joy than we could have thought possible.
This past year I saw this joy in suffering first hand, so I know its true, and not just something that we say:) In March of 2012 my mom had an extremely serious and rare heart surgery. Our family was taken by surprise by the diagnose and the quick pace leading up to the surgery was very surreal. I will never forget those first couple of weeks in the hospital, they were horrible and they were amazing. The first time I got to see my mom she was still on life support and not looking to comfortable, it was then that I realized what everyone was talking about when they said recovery was going to be very hard and long for my mom. When she woke up the next day she could barely move and any movement was very painful for her. I was miserable just watching her, and yet she was smiling. Not only smiling, but making jokes about how much pain she was in. Who does that?! I seriously thought her painkillers were a dosage too high, but that wasn’t it, she was just joyful. She found joy in everything- her nurses, doctors, fellow patients, friends visiting, her hospital room, everything. She chose joy everyday, and she chose it even though she knew that it was going to be a hard day. No one could take her joy from her because it had taken such deep root in her soul. That year she showed me what joy is, what its supposed to be.
Joy is not as much an emotion as it is a gift, and its a gift that God wants to give us. Joy is in a persons soul, and it shines through in everything they do. In suffering and in the regular daily events in ordinary life. Find joy in everything! Life is beautiful, people are beautiful, and even though our world is broken, it is insanely beautiful, find joy in it. Joy is in the ordinary, chose it.